Marc Rowan

Marc Rowan
Apollo Global Management

Touted as a master of financial engineering, Apollo co-founder Marc Rowan is credited for being the brains behind the listed alternatives giant’s much-envied deal with insurer Athene at the start of 2022. The insurer provided Apollo with roughly two-fifths of its assets under management via permanent capital, Rowan told analysts when the merger was announced in March 2021. Upon completion, the merger created the firm’s retirement services business. 

Rowan is understood to have played a leading role in developing the firm’s insurance strategy. While the Athene deal was the latest in a string of tie-ups between big insurance companies and asset managers, like that of KKR and Global Atlantic, as Private Equity International reported in 2021, Apollo set the pace in 2009 by recognising that managing portfolios of insurance assets like Athene’s annuities could be a steady source of permanent capital to invest. 

Rowan took on the mantle of chief executive in March 2021 during a tumultuous time for the firm. He succeeded fellow co-founder Leon Black, whose departure followed an investigation into and media scrutiny of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein – the investigation, conducted by law firm Dechert, found no evidence that Black or any Apollo employee was involved with Epstein’s criminal activities. 

With Rowan at its helm, Apollo has continued to roll out ambitious plans. At the end of the second quarter it launched global wealth platform Apollo Aligned Alternatives with $15 billion of invested or committed capital. This included $10 billion of capital off the balance sheet of Athene and $5 billion from institutional investors. Based on early conversations with investors, Rowan said on the firm’s second quarter earnings call that AAA has the potential to be “the largest fund across the Apollo platform by this time next year”.

Stephen Schwarzman

Stephen Schwarzman
Blackstone

As co-founder, chairman and CEO of one of the largest investment firms in the world, Stephen Schwarzman was always going to be a strong contender for our Changemakers list. Schwarzman has been involved in all aspects of Blackstone’s development since the firm was founded in 1985, including expanding its private equity offering. As a result, Blackstone has sat in the top spot of the PEI 300, a ranking of the industry’s biggest fundraisers, for five of the past 10 years.

Schwarzman has graced the pages of PEI many times over the last 21 years, ranging from the 2005 announcement that he would be succeeded as president of the firm by Hamilton James to his recent thoughts on the Biden administration’s impact on US-China relations. He also featured in our 10th anniversary ‘100 most influential of the decade’ list, with his contribution to the $21.7 billion closing of Capital Partners V in 2007 – at the time, the industry’s largest private equity fund – landing him squarely at number three in the ranking. With Blackstone reportedly targeting $30 billion for its next flagship – which would, again, be the largest PE fund ever raised – it’s clear Schwarzman’s drive hasn’t dissipated over the last decade. 

Réal Desrochers

Réal Desrochers
Formerly at CalPERS and CalSTRS

When Réal Desrochers left the position of managing investment director of the private equity programme at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in 2017, the role was left without a permanent occupant for two years. There’s something to be said here about having big shoes to fill.  In PEI’s 10th anniversary list of PE influencers, we noted that Desrochers was so “plugged in” to the industry that GPs had him on speed dial. 

Looking at his CV, it’s clear from where he gained this market insight. Canadian-born and previously serving as vice-president of international corporate investments at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Desrochers emigrated to the US to join the California State Teachers’ Retirement System in 1998, where he held the role of director of alternative investments. When it was announced that Desrochers had resigned from CalSTRS in 2009, Christopher Ailman, CalSTRS’ chief investment officer, wrote in an internal email: “I’m not sure Réal will ever truly retire. He has investments in his blood.”

Ailman added: “He is truly a global industry leader in private equity… During his tenure, our private equity portfolio has produced the second-highest performance in the entire US.”

Desrochers subsequently served as CIO for the Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil) before beginning on a near six-year stint at CalPERS. The industry veteran also dipped a toe in the world of Asia-Pacific private equity, serving as managing director of Beijing-headquartered investment firm CITICPE (now CPE) until 2021, where he was understood to have been responsible for strategy development and establishing a US outpost for the firm. 

David Rubenstein

David Rubenstein
Carlyle 

In June, PEI published an article outlining David Rubenstein’s 10 steps to due diligencing funds – tips that he recounted in less than two minutes at a recent industry event. As of November, this was the most-read article PEI published this year by some distance. 

This comes as little surprise; the Carlyle Group co-founder and co-chairman of the board – referred to in our 10th anniversary list of influential PE figures as “the greatest fundraiser the industry has ever seen” – is a fount of wisdom. When he talks, people listen.

Rubenstein set up Carlyle in 1987, and in 2001, when he sat down with PEI for its very first issue, he shared his ambition to build the firm into a household name in international private equity. 

No one could claim he failed: this year, Carlyle placed sixth on PEI’s list of the 300 biggest fundraisers in private equity, having raised $48 billion over the preceding five-year period, while its 13th flagship fund is currently in the market having raised $14 billion of its $22 billion target, per PEI data.

Megan Starr

Megan Starr
Carlyle

While ESG has continued to gain momentum in private markets, a lack of standardisation has proved a sticking point. A data-led, standardised set of principles against which managers and investors alike can measure ESG efforts is crucial to understanding how much progress is being made in key areas.

Widely regarded in the industry as an innovator in this area is Megan Starr, global head of impact at Carlyle. In September 2021, Starr played a leading role in the launch of the ESG Data Convergence Project, which Carlyle spearheaded alongside the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, to help address this challenge.

As part of the project, participants track and report six metrics: Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, board diversity, work-related injuries, net new hires and employee engagement.

More than 230 GPs and LPs representing $24 trillion in assets under management have since signed up to take part in the project, which is now known as the ESG Data Convergence Initiative, with the Institutional Limited Partners Association serving as official secretariat.

“ESG is one of the more collaborative corners of finance, which is why the ESG Data Convergence Project was even possible,” Starr told Private Equity International earlier this year. 

“We have a similar collective objective as a private markets industry – better, more quantitative, comparable performance data on ESG, so that we can accurately assess progress over time and potential correlations with financial performance. We worked together to agree on a common way of tracking data in order to make that happen.”

Starr joined Carlyle from Goldman Sachs’ investment management division in 2019 to create and implement the firm’s long-term impact strategy and oversee the ESG team, which leads Carlyle’s investment diligence and portfolio company engagement work on ESG issues. Her work has continued to put the firm at the cutting edge of ESG developments, including innovations such as sustainability-linked loans. 

Joseph Rice

Joseph Rice
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice

Joseph Rice, one of the four individuals to found Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 1978, is widely regarded as one of the earliest pioneers of the leveraged buyout model. Per CD&R’s website, Rice has said of the firm’s founding: “In many respects, it wasn’t really a business but a personal effort by a close-knit group, which wasn’t exactly sure where it was headed, but shared a sense of common values and a conviction that combining operating and financial skills would produce better investment results.”

Those values included the belief that LBOs – having fallen out of popularity at the time as a result of bankruptcies that followed the late 20th century LBO boom – had far more to offer than was widely believed. As an early proponent of the model, Rice led CD&R in several high-profile deals, including the acquisitions of rental car company Hertz, Goodrich Tire Company and Remington Arms. 

Upon stepping down from his role as chairman of CD&R in 2012, Rice continued to contribute to the industry, including through his work with the Private Capital Research Institute. 

Rice co-founded PCRI in 2011, inspired by PE’s rapid growth. The aim, he told PEI, was to “increase transparency and understanding of private capital through academic research as the industry scales”.

Jeremy Coller

Jeremy Coller
Coller Capital

Mention the secondaries market in any discussion about private equity and Jeremy Coller’s name is bound to come up sooner or later. While the former pension fund executive didn’t execute the first ever secondaries transaction, his contribution to the evolution of the secondaries market is unparalleled. 

Coller was working at the UK’s ICI Pension Plan in the 1980s when a US venture capitalist named Dayton Carr came along with plans to raise a fund dedicated to acquiring second-hand stakes in private equity funds. Coller, who became the first institutional investor in Carr’s fund, thought the idea was such a good one, he decided to launch a firm focusing on the strategy himself.

While Carr’s firm, Venture Capital Fund of America, would remain focused on the smaller end of the secondaries market, Coller Capital would go on to become one of the industry’s biggest players.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Coller. In 1990, when he decided to launch the first European fund of funds to invest in co-investments, the first Gulf War broke out, throwing a spanner in the works of his fundraise.

“Necessity is the mother of invention, so I pivoted from ‘what I wanted to do’ to ‘how do I get into business?’” Coller tells PEI. If the PE fundraising market was challenged in this environment, why not oil the wheels of liquidity and start a secondaries market, he thought.

By 2000, Coller had backed the first secondaries transaction worth more than $1 billion with the acquisition of UK bank NatWest’s private equity portfolio. By 2007, just prior to the global financial crisis, Coller raised the largest dedicated secondaries fund at the time with a $4.8 billion vehicle.

“It took us four years to raise €50 million and in 2021 we closed our eighth fund at over $9 billion,” Coller says, highlighting the firm’s success over the years. “Along the way I industrialised the secondaries private equity market.”

Industrialise it he did: secondaries market volume grew from a fringe activity in the 1980s to a roughly $130 billion market last year, according to intermediaries’ estimates. 

Coller Capital is not the largest secondaries firm. It does, however, hold its own within the top 10 biggest firms – its latest secondaries fund is a roughly $9 billion vehicle – and it is known for having the wherewithal to push into areas others shy away from. It is considering launching a yuan-denominated secondaries strategy in China and has launched a credit secondaries fund.

Says a veteran London-based intermediary who has worked with both the firm and its founder: “The market would be a lot worse off without them.”