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2. Colony Capital
Colony Capital

With a 10.7% stake in retailer Carrefour, Colony Capital approaches real estate almost with subterfuge. "We find companies that don't look like real estate companies," says founder Tom Barrack, who cut his teeth with billionaire Robert Bass before starting Colony in 1991. He's now working with its eighth fund, worth $4 billion.

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Last updated May 19 2008: 1:24 PM ET