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KKR merges teams after more leaders step down: Reuters

(Reuters) – KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) said it would merge some of its private equity industry teams in the United States after two more of its leaders stepped down, and as it prepares the ground for raising its next flagship North American buyout fund.

KKR has decided to combine its technology group with its media and communications team, according to a memo to its fund investors sent last week and seen by Reuters. It will also combine its retail team with its consumer group, the memo said.

The changes follow the retirement last month of Simon Brown, according to the memo. Brown headed KKR’s agriculture, chemicals, consumer products, and metals and mining investments. David Kerko who co-led KKR’s technology team, has also stepped down. Both Brown and Kerko continue to serve as senior advisors.

Herald Chen, who co-led technology investments with Kerko, and Richard Sarnoff, who headed media and communications, will be co-heads of the new technology, media and telecom group.

“We believe this realignment reflects the convergence of the internet, technology, media and communications industries, with end markets and investment opportunities increasingly defined in digital terms,” Alexander Navab, head of Americas private equity, and Suzanne Donohoe, global head of KKR’s client and partner group, wrote in the memo.

Nathaniel Taylor, who currently leads KKR’s retail investments, will be the head of the combined consumer and retail group. KKR said in the memo that, as more retailers develop their own consumer brands and product companies seek to reach consumers directly, organizational integration was becoming more important.

Brown and Kerko are the latest in a string of KKR private equity team heads in the United States who have left the New York-based firm since its latest $9 billion North American private equity fund, NAXI, started investing in November 2012.

They include Michael Calbert, the previous head of retail investing, Adam Clammer, the previous head of technology investing, and Thomas Uger, the former head of media and communications investing.

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