PE HUB Wire Highlights, 5.20.19

Photo of Luisa Beltran, PE HUB Senior Editor, courtesy of Buyouts Insider.

Vista’s Smith makes transformative gift to Morehouse College; Avantor IPO produces big return for New Mountain; Lovell Minnick exits J.S. Held

Private equity executives are known for their dealmaking and their philanthropy.

Yesterday, Robert Smith, the founder and CEO of Vista Equity, surprised many when he promised to pay off the student loans of the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College. Morehouse, of Atlanta, is a historically black college that is all male. Details of the gift, like how much Smith is contributing (his family is reportedly making a grant to pay for the gift), remain unsettled, DealBook said.

The exact amount to be covered for the 396 students is still being calculated, Morehouse President David A. Thomas told CNN Monday, but the figure will likely be in the tens of millions of dollars. (Smith makes good gifts. In 2017, he offered to sponsor the education of 24 girls from the Chibok community in Nigeria, including 21 who were kidnapped by extremist group Boko Haram.)

For now, I’m happy someone is trying to lift the debt load off of these men who graduated yesterday. This sort of gift is transformative. As someone who spent much of her adult life paying off student loans, not having to make that monthly payment right out of school means these grads might actually be able to take chances with their careers or even work in nonprofits.

Gift giving isn’t a new thing for PE execs. David Rubenstein, the co-founder and co-executive chairman of Carlyle Group, is a noted philanthropist, giving to such establishments like Harvard Business SchoolLincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian National Zoo‘s giant panda program. Stephen SchwarzmanBlackstone‘s CEO, recently donated $350 million to MIT’s new computing college.

Last week, Orlando Bravo said he was committing $100 million to the Bravo Family Foundation to promote entrepreneurship and economic development in Puerto Rico. Bravo, co-founder and managing partner of Thoma Bravo, is a native of Puerto Rico. In 2017, the executive, along with the Bravo foundation, raised food and money for the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Who else will be making similar gifts? Email me at

Speaking of Rubenstein, the executive, in a keynote speech last week at the EMPEA/IFC Global Private Equity conference in Washington, said that now is the time to invest in emerging markets. Rubenstein also explained why he launched his family office, Declaration CapitalReach Chris’s story here.


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