Private Equity: The Land of Second Acts

Even if the public markets won’t forgive you, it’s a good bet private equity will.

Take Robert Nardelli, who earned himself plenty of criticism in recent years by the egregious $210 million “golden parachute” he received upon resignation as head of Home Depot. The paycheck earned him a spot as one of the highest-paid executives with the worst-performing companies. He further solidified his public enemy creds as CEO of Chrysler—on his watch, the company’s sales fell 30% last year and 45% in the first quarter of this year, leading, as we all know, to one of the year’s largest bankruptcies.

Yet he still has a career, thanks to private equity. Today Cerberus Capital Management hired him as CEO of its operating and advisory business.

He’s not the only CEO to fail and reemerge under the forgiving shelter of a private equity firm.

Just a few days ago, Fortress Investment Group appointed Daniel Mudd as its CEO. You may remember Mudd as the former boss of Fannie Mae; he was ousted last year when the government seized the company as its losses in risky securities mounted.

And only a month ago, Aquiline Capital Partners hired the former CEO of Wachovia, Ken Thompson. Thompson was pushed out of Wachovia last year before the firm was forced to merge with Wells Fargo by its board.

What are some other examples of corporate titans that forged a second act in private the equity world?

Update: In addition to the mentions in the comments below, today we heard rumors that Stanley O’Neal, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, was considering joining alternative investments firm Vision Capital Advisors. Beyond that, the former CEO of UBS, Marcel Rohner, is reportedly joining the advisory board of Exigen Capital.