Peter Sarnoff, co-chairman Bertelsmann Inc. and president of Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, is joining KKR where he will be a senior advisor. Sarnoff will also become a director of BMG Rights Management, a joint venture between KKR and Bertelsmann AG, and will serve on the board of Weld North. Sarnoff, according to a statement, will work closely with KKR to identify and pursue new investments, especially in the media sector. KKR is a PE firm.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (together with its affiliates, “KKR”) today announced the appointment of Richard Sarnoff as a Senior Advisor to the Firm. Mr. Sarnoff joins KKR from Bertelsmann AG, where he was Co-Chairman of Bertelsmann Inc., the U.S. holding company, and President of Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI). Mr. Sarnoff will work closely with the KKR team to identify and pursue new investments, particularly in the media sector, while also supporting existing portfolio companies. He will become a member of the board of directors of BMG Rights Management, a joint venture between KKR and Bertelsmann AG, and become a Senior Advisor and serve on the board of Weld North LLC, a partnership between KKR and Jonathan Grayer.
Alexander Navab, co-head of KKR’s North American Private Equity business and head of the Media/Communications industry team in the U.S., said, “We have come to know and highly respect Richard for the depth of his experience in investing and leading strategic growth initiatives in the media industry. Richard’s expertise will be an important asset when it comes to supporting existing investments and pursuing new investment opportunities.”
“The privilege of having such a varied and long career at Bertelsmann and Random House–and contributing to the growth of leading companies in books, television, services, and magazines and digital media–has been a great preparation for an active role in the transactions that will define the media industry in years to come. Joining KKR, with its premier platform in private equity, provides a singular opportunity to work on significant deals across the traditional and digital media landscape. Simultaneously, with Weld North, I look forward to helping build an exemplary group of investments in consumer services. Together, KKR and Weld North cover an extraordinary spectrum of investment opportunities to which, I hope, my experience applies,” Richard Sarnoff said.
KKR and Jonathan Grayer created Weld North in 2010 to invest in and operate companies in the rapidly growing consumer services space, such as the education, media, health and wellness and marketing sectors.
“I am very pleased to welcome Richard as a Board member and as a Senior Advisor to Weld North,” said Jonathan Grayer, chief executive officer of Weld North. “As we sharpen our focus and prepare to make our first investments, I believe Richard’s years of experience at Bertelsmann, where he worked at the nexus of media, publishing and technology, will be invaluable. Working in partnership with KKR, we are excited by the opportunities that exist in our core disciplines–the consumer services, education, health and wellness, media, personal services and marketing sectors–and look forward to Richard’s immediate contributions.”
Mr. Sarnoff has played a key role in the strategic and corporate development activities of Bertelsmann Inc. in the U.S. and in Asia, and, as President of BDMI, led the company’s investment activities in digital media, establishing offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and building an active portfolio of more than a dozen companies. Prior to establishing and leading BDMI, and being named Co-Chairman of Bertelsmann Inc., Mr. Sarnoff was a longstanding senior executive in Bertelsmann’s U.S. book publishing operations, including serving as Chief Financial Officer. In 1998, he was an architect of the Random House acquisition and merger with Bantam Doubleday Dell, and subsequently became that company’s Executive Vice President and CFO. In the ensuing years, he was responsible for Random House’s New Media and Corporate Development activities, and created and oversaw Random House Ventures. In 2002, Mr. Sarnoff became the first U.S. executive to chair the Bertelsmann Management Representative Committee and to serve on the Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann AG.
Mr. Sarnoff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard University. He serves on the board of directors of Activision Blizzard, Inc. and Amdocs, Inc., as well as on the boards of not-for-profit organizations including the Center for Communication, Princeton University Press, and the Bronx Lab School. In recent years, he also served as Chairman of the American Association of Publishers.
In July 2009, KKR and Bertelsmann AG formed a joint venture to develop a global music rights management business that could benefit from KKR’s financial strength and global network and Bertelsmann’s expertise in licensing and administrating music rights, its large number of music catalogues and artists, the established BMG brand, and its experienced management team.
KKR’s Senior Advisors are part of the Firm’s integrated model of value creation. They include current and former senior executives who bring unique leadership skills to complement the work of KKR investment professionals and the operational executives at KKR Capstone, and serve as liaisons to manage relationships with current and future investment partners.
KKR has been an active media and communications investor for over 25 years and has invested more than $8 billion of equity capital leading or supporting transactions with total enterprise value in excess of $60 billion. KKR’s media and communications investments include Nielsen, TDC, SBS Broadcasting, BMG, PagesJaunes, Yellow Pages Group, Seven Media and ProSieben. A complete list of KKR investments can be found on KKR.com
Founded in 1976 and led by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, KKR is a leading global alternative asset manager with $55.5 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2010. With over 650 people and 14 offices around the world, KKR manages assets through a variety of investment funds and accounts covering multiple asset classes. KKR seeks to create value by bringing operational expertise to its portfolio companies and through active oversight and monitoring of its investments. KKR complements its investment expertise and strengthens interactions with investors through its client relationships and capital markets platforms. KKR is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: KKR). For additional information, please visit KKR’s website at www.kkr.com.