My colleague Alastair Goldfisher took a swing already at the venture capitalists on the new Forbes list of the world’s billionaires. Perhaps it’s no surprise there are more dudes from the buyouts world (and way predominantly, these superwealthy folks are of the male persuasion) on this list than there are from VC.
The thing that may be more surprising is that the richest of the rich in the buyout world, although they swim in the same waters as the fund managers we focus on here, don’t necessarily play with the same pools.
Consider, for instance, Warren Buffet, No. 3 on the Forbes global billionaire list, with a net worth of $50 billion. There’s no question that this guy does what many of our PE readers do—he buys control stakes in a portfolio of companies. But his investment vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway, is a publicly traded company itself (although admittedly, considering that a single share of BRK-A is trading today somewhere north of $120,000, you’d practically have to be a pension fund in order to invest. But I digress.)
This also is true with some of the other top billionaire dealmakers on the list. Carl Icahn, No. 61 with $12.5 billion, is listed as a hedge fund manager, although he often plays the game for control. Of course, Icahn is also rather famously getting out of the business of managing other people’s money, although he shows no signs of slowing down investing for his own portfolio. Notably, having cratered Blackstone Group’s attempt to buy power producer Dynegy Inc. last year, Icahn doubled down on the company Wednesday after Dynegy cautioned about its risk for a Chapter 11.
Also likewise, Ron Perelman, No. 64 with $12 billion, invests through the publicly traded M&F Worldwide Corp., better known as MacAndrews & Forbes, whose portfolio runs the gamut from check printing and bank technology to licorice (no kidding) and tobacco.
And while both Icahn and Perelman are listed as “leveraged buyouts” players, the first buyouts guy I found on the list who comes from the world of limited partner fundraisers is Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of Blackstone, No. 169 with $5.9 billion, and his source of wealth is listed as “investments.” Which I guess is true, considering that Blackstone is really a multi-strategy firm. And need I mention that BX also is on the NYSE?
Also, Henry Kravis, a co-founder of mega-fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., No. 281 with $3.9 billion, and George Roberts, another KKR co-founder, No. 297 with $3.7 billion. Sidelight: Since the firm listed on the NYSE last year, the parent company is officially KKR & Co. LP.
The first actual private private-equity firm executive I found on this list is Leon Black, a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, at No. 310 with $3.5 billion, and even that is scarcely fair, because while Apollo has not completed its IPO, it does seem to have been in registration forever.
Next up, David Rubenstein, a co-founder and one of three leaders of The Carlyle Group, No. 440 with $2.6 billion. Forever a tease, Carlyle’s IPO isn’t expected before 2012.
Enough. I’ll run quickly through the other PE guys I found on this list:
Tom Gores, founder of buyout shop Platinum Equity, No. 488 with $2.4 billion (and the first one I noticed who was listed as “private equity,” in contrast to the others above, who were listed mostly as “investments” or “leveraged buyouts”);
William Conway and and Daniel D’Aniello, the other founding partners of Carlyle, tied with a number of others at No. 540 with $2.2 billion;
David Bonderman, co-founder of TPG, No. 595 with $2 billion;
Wilbur Ross of WL Ross & Co. and James Coulter, another TPG co-founder, No. 651 with $2 $1.9 billion;
George Argyros of Westar Capital and Jonathan Nelson of Providence Equity Partners, No. 736 with $1.7 billion;
Ted Forstmann of Forstmann Little & Co. and Alec Gores of Gores Group, No. 782 with $1.6 billion;
Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital and Marc Rowan of Apollo, No. 833 with $1.5 billion;
Thomas Lee of Lee Equity Partners, No. 879 with $1.4 billion;
Joshua Harris and Bruce Karsh, both of Apollo, and Henry Swieca of Highbridge Capital Management, No. 993 with $1.2 billion;
Pete Peterson of Blackstone and, to complete the circle, Charlie Munger, Buffet’s buddy at Berkshire, at No. 1,140 with a nice round $1 billion.
Sorry if I missed anybody, but the list includes 1,210 billionaires, although the bottom rank is only 1,140 because of ties. Please feel free to backstop me in the comments.