The degrees of separation between Robert Redford, the Hollywood screen legend, and Tim Collins, a nowlegendary investor and head of international private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings: the two are linked through a chain of relationships that begins at the actor's base of operations in Utah.

▪Robert Redford is well known to film fans for his roles in classics such as The Sting, All The President's Men, and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. After the latter movie, Redford moved, of all places, to Sundance, Utah, where he founded the Sundance Film Festival as a forum for independent movies. Redford parlayed the success of this festival into a number of businesses, including a mail-order catalogue, which he recently sold to ACI Capital, a private equity firm led by …

▪Thomas Israel, a scion of the Israel family of Louisiana, which at one point was the largest shareholder of investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. In 2002, ACI Capital acquired diet consulting company Jenny Craig in partnership with DB Capital Partners, which is now named MidOcean Partners and led by …

▪Ted Virtue, who spun out MidOcean from parent Deutsche Bank last year along with the head of the London team, Graham Clempson. MidOcean recently announced that it would merge operations with Ripplewood Holdings, the US and Japan buyout sensation best known for its astonishing success with Shinsei Bank. Ripplewood is led by …

▪Tim Collins, a former Lazard banker who, unlike Redford, avoids the spotlight but, like the film star, has a soft spot for country livin' – his family has long owned a tobacco farm in Kentucky called Ripplewood.

People who run the finance function of private equity firms are constantly asked to help where they can't, do things they shouldn't, and overlook things they mustn't. John Harris, the CFO of The Carlyle Group, said at Private Equity International's recent Strategic Financial Management for Private Equity Firms event in New York: “I don't know how many times I find myself saying ‘no'.” Here are his suggested variations on replying in the negative:

Top ten ways for a private equity CFO to say “no”

10) Hell no.

9) The partnership agreement doesn't allow it.

8) You've got to be kidding.

7) Do you want me to get fired?

6) Do you want me to go to jail?

5) Let me think about it.

4) Let me sleep on it.

3) Did you come up with that one all by yourself?

2) Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

1) N-O spells “no”.

“The days of holding everything at cost until an exit or a blow-up are over.”

John Harris, chief financial officer, The Carlyle Group, speaking at Private Equity International's 2004 Strategic Financial Management for Private Equity Firms event in New York

“Families have an importance to us that goes beyond the amount they can commit, and €10 million to €20 million might be too much for them.”

Andreas Tahlberg EQT, commenting on the spread of investors in their newly-closed €2.5 billion fund

“Investors liked the fact that we are hungry. This has to work for us and we will be involved at every level – the four of us make up the investment committee and we will all meet every management team.”

Richard Campin, one of the four co-founders of Exponent Private Equity on the reasons behind the swift close of their £400 million debut fund

“There are a lot of dots out there, but who's in the best position to connect the dots?”

Former US secretary of defense William Cohen, who is launching merchant bank TCG Financial Partners, in a Bloomberg report commenting on his ability to forecast defense spending to give him an edge in picking acquisition candidates

“Experience in other states shows that top-tier private equity funds are less likely to take public pension money because of exposure to Freedom of Information Act requests.”

A Massachusetts Treasury spokeswoman, as quoted in the Boston Business Journal, concerning the overturn of a veto by Governor (and Bain Capital co-founder) Mitt Romney on a law which gives the state pension fund broad discretion as to what data can be kept secret

“… due to market conditions.”

Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission posted within two days of each other stating the reason why Los ([A-z]+)-based Evercore Partners and Gores Technology Group withdrew their proposed business development companies

Not too many GPs can claim to have been named one of People magazine's “50 Hottest Bachelors”, which probably serves as a great value-add for Chris Heinz's portfolio. Before he started stumping for his stepfather and attending John Kerry fundraising parties, Heinz focused his money-making efforts on private equity. Heinz, an heir to the Pittsburgh-based ketchup kingdom of the same name, most recently served as a principal at New York-based Jacobson Partners. The 31-yearold is currently on a “leave of absence” from the firm, working full-time on Kerry's Democratic bid for the White House.

Little is known of Heinz's work while with the firm. Jacobson did not return calls. Heinz joined the buyout firm after getting his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2001. Jacobson specialises in acquiring underperforming companies in the middle market. Founded in 1989, the firm recently closed its fourth fund and has invested more than $155 million in 13 companies since its inception. In 2002, Jacobson acquired Corning's appliance controls division, and in 2001 bought out the Taco Bueno chain for $72.5 million.

Heinz's CV also includes stints at telecom company Tellme Networks and investment advisory firm Cambridge Associates.

Whether or not his hard work on the political campaign will pay off, it would appear Heinz, who has already been dubbed John F. Kennedy Jr.'s successor in the “political hunk” category, will depart the private equity world for a life of public service. According to a recent New York Times article, Heinz seems not to have many regrets about leaving private equity: “I just thought I'd never be as competitive as the next guy; that I'd never be as hungry. Finance is mostly about ‘he who earns the most money wins'. And you know, our family has some money.”