Apollo’s Black warns young women about skin cancer

Leon Black, the chairman and CEO of Apollo Global Management, is known for buying and selling companies. But the PE titan has some choice words for young women who like to go out in the sun.

“Use common sense!” Black bellowed in a crowd filled with Wall Street and private equity executives. “You can go outside but go in the morning. Use hats and suntan lotion. And get checked.”

Black was referring to skin cancer, the topic of last night’s fundraiser, “Leveraged Finance Industry Comes Together to Fight Melanoma.”  “Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma.” Jeff Rowbottom, head of KKR Capital Markets, and Brendan Dillon, UBS‘ global head of leveraged finance syndicate, hosted the third annual event. Both Rowbottom and Dillon are melanoma survivors. Michael Milken, the financier and philanthropist who Black called his mentor, was also there.

About 900 people attended the event, which raised $1.4 million. The funds will go to support the Melanoma Research Alliance, which Black and his wife Debra founded in 2007. It was Debra Black’s brush with Stage II skin cancer seven years ago that prompted the couple to start MRA under the auspices of the Milken Institute. (Milken is on the MRA board, according to the foundation website.)

At the time, very little research had been done on melanoma, which is one of the most common cancers in the United States. MRA, which is based in Washington, D.C., is currently the largest private funder of melanoma research and has provided more than $60 million in research awards, said spokeswoman Marissa Maybee. MRA has leveraged another $60 million, for a total direct impact of about $125 million since its founding, Maybee said.

The Black family personally has provided $40 million to MRA, he said.

“In the last seven years, great strides have been made,” Leon Black said. “It is one of the most exciting areas of cancer research.”

Black pointed out that melanoma is the fastest growing cancer for young women under 40. One of the major causes? Tanning booths, he said.

Apollo, he said, doesn’t own any tanning booth companies. His wife, meanwhile, is “all over” his four children—who include one daughter in her 20s—to use suntan lotion.

“I get checked twice a year,” Black said.

(CORRECTION: The name of the melanoma fundraiser was “Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma.” The story previously had the incorrect title and has been changed.) 

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