Gillette CEO to launch private equity fund

Centerview Partners, the recently formed boutique investment bank, announced that James Kilts, the former head of The Gillette Company, will join the firm as a founding partner to focus on the firm’s private equity business.

Centerview Partners, the boutique investment bank formed last July by former Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein executives, announced that they have signed on former Gillette chairman, CEO and president James Kilts to help boost their private equity practice, as well as advise its clients.

The firm plans to initially focus its private equity investment in consumer-oriented companies, and Kilts, a former senior executive at Gillette (a division of Procter & Gamble), Nabisco and Kraft, has had a 35-year career in consumer products. Gillette was a former investment of buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, as was Nabisco.

Centerview will focus on US companies, and will concentrate in large part on strategic and operational improvements. The New York Times reported sources close to the firm as saying that Kilts would likely raise a $1 billion (€788 million) fund within a year.

“My career has been focused on building brands, and this is an opportunity to build brands in various sectors,” said Kilts in a statement. He is currently a member of the board of directors of insurance giant Met Life and The New York Times, and a member of Citigroup’s International Advisory Board. He also remains vice chairman of the board at Gillette.

Even before the announcement, Centerview had no shortage of investment heavyweights. The firm was founded by Stephen Crawford, a former co-president at Morgan Stanley; Robert Pruzan, former CEO of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein North America and president of Wasserstein Perella & Company, both investment banking firms; and Blair Effron, ex-vice chairman at investment services firm UBS. Effron advised Gillette on its $57 billion (€45 billion) sale to Proctor & Gamble last year.