Scott Kleinman: Apollo Global Management’s Child Prodigy

Scott Kleinman has spent half his life at the global private equity giant. Who is the 44-year-old being touted as one of the firm's future leaders?

When Scott Kleinman joined Apollo Global Management in 1996, the firm – founded by Leon Black, Mark Rowan and Josh Harris as a distressed debt specialist – had only been going six years.

Kleinman, who was promoted to co-president alongside James Zelter on Monday and who will have full responsibility for all of Apollo’s equity and opportunistic businesses, was only 23.

Scott Kleinman of Apollo Global Management
Scott Kleinman

More than two decades later, the firm has grown significantly, from $40.3 billion in assets under management to $241.6 billion as of the third quarter, and now focuses on private equity, credit and real assets. Kleinman, who will remain the lead partner for private equity until 1 January, a position he attained in 2009, has been a key element in the firm’s expansion.

“Scott has been with Apollo for more than two decades, and he has played a critical role in driving the growth of our private equity business while maintaining a best-in-class investment track record,” Harris, a managing director at Apollo, said in a statement announcing the promotion.

The firm declined to comment further.

One person familiar with the firm said that the move isn’t related to succession, pointing out Black, Harris and Rowan are only 66, 55 and 52 respectively, and staying in their roles. But the announcement smelled like at least a step in that direction.

An excerpt from the Oregon Investment Council’s March meeting presentation of Apollo Investment Fund IX, which closed earlier this year on nearly $25 billion, gives some clues to the direction the management team is taking and the role Kleinman has been playing so far.

“Apollo’s three managing partners remain fully engaged with the business and anticipate remaining so for the foreseeable future,” according to the presentation. “Leon Black is in his mid-60s but has expressed a desire to remain in his capacity as the firm’s CEO for some time.”

It’s no surprise the three co-founders aren’t ready to leave any time soon, but it’s also best practice that they are grooming the next generation.

“On a day-to-day basis, the private equity business is run by Scott Kleinman who has been with the Apollo for more than 20 years,” the presentation to Oregon continues. “Kleinman oversees a team of 20 senior partners who are mostly in their mid-40s to mid-50s.”

The focus on Kleinman and Zelter as the ones who could potentially one day be fully in charge didn’t come out of the blue. In a 2015 second-quarter earnings conference call, as Black was referring to the link between performance of the firm and its people, he referred to leaders across the business but only named Kleinman and Zelter.

Kleinman has not only wooed his bosses at Apollo, he’s also widely respected and admired by his peers, which was palpable at a recent industry conference in New York where he was the keynote speaker.

On a more personal note, he is a native of Scarsdale, New York, where he resides with his wife, Wendy, and their children. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with bachelor’s degrees in Russian studies and finance and from the Wharton School of Business – Harris and Rowan are also Wharton graduates. Prior to joining Apollo, he worked at Smith Barney in its investment banking division for about two years.

Kleinman and his wife are active philanthropists, frequently giving to charities and having made a $10 million donation to the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 to create the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, which aims to develop new energy policies.

With such a squeaky-clean resume, Kleinman’s future at Apollo is bright.