Ex-Caterpillar CEO joins KKR

James Owens, former chief executive at construction machinery company Caterpillar, joins as a senior advisor.

The former chief executive officer of US-based construction equipment provider Caterpillar, James Owens, is shifting gears with a move into private equity. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts hired Owens as a senior advisor to the firm. He will also take a seat on KKR’s portfolio management committee, which is responsible for overseeing the firm’s current investments.

Owens’ new advisory role comes after 38 years with Caterpillar, first starting at the heavy machinery company as a corporate economist. In 2004 he was appointed chief executive officer. The company’s revenue more than doubled under his stewardship between 2004 and 2008.

James Owens

Global alternative asset giant KKR has invested in the industrial sector for over 30 years, deploying approximately $6 billion of equity capital across various transactions which have culminated in a total enterprise value of roughly $38 billion, the firm said in a statement.

KKR will “benefit greatly from both [Owens’] depth of experience in the industrial sector and his recognized leadership on global economic issues”, said KKR co-founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts.

Owens’ experience includes serving President Obama as a member of Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which was tasked with analyzing the recent financial crisis. He also sits on the board of directors at Alcoa, IBM, and Morgan Stanley.

“I am honoured to offer my knowledge and counsel to the firm as an active member of the firm’s portfolio management committee,” said Owens.