09/30/2002 11:00PM

Annenberg, owned DRF, dead


NEW YORK - Walter H. Annenberg, the media developer whose vast holdings included the Daily Racing Form for more than 40 years, died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia. He was 94.

Annenberg, who died at his home in Wynnewood, Pa., was believed to be one of the 50 wealthiest people in the United States, with an estimated net worth of $4 billion in 2002, according to Forbes magazine.

He launched TV Guide and Seventeen magazines, and in his later years he became noted for his philanthropy and for his collection of artwork.

Annenberg inherited the Philadelphia Inquirer as well as Daily Racing Form and its sister publication, the Morning Telegraph, after his father, Moses, died in 1942. At the time, Daily Racing Form was one of the most profitable publications in the country.

In 1988, Annenberg sold Daily Racing Form and other properties, including TV Guide, under the Triangle Publications banner to Rupert Murdoch for $3 billion, then the largest price paid for a media company.

Annenberg was noted for his conservative views and counted as friends a number of Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In 1969, Nixon appointed Annenberg as ambassador to Britain. Annenberg served in the position for five years.

In 1991, Annenberg donated a collection of Impressionist and early modern paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The collection was valued at $1 billion at the time.