If John Kerry wins the White House, the US will gain a new economic czar, but Evercore Partners may lose its founder. Roger Altman is being spoken of as the likely head of the Treasury department should Kerry win this month's presidential election.
Altman is currently an advisor to Kerry and has been unable to resist the lure of politics in the past, despite his stunning success on Wall Street. After joining Lehman Brothers in 1969, Altman five years later became the youngest individual at the firm to be named partner. But he left to join the Carter White House as an assistant secretary of the Treasury.
From 1987 to 1992 he was vice chairman of Blackstone. He left to join President Bill Clinton, where Altman served as deputy secretary of the Treasury, but was forced to quit amid the Whitewater investigation for what the Republican-controlled Congress considered to be less than total cooperation.
Altman subsequently founded Evercore, a private investment firm that pursues buyouts, venture capital, M&A advisory work and a “business development company”. Altman is now campaigning hard for Kerry. At a recent news conference, he told reporters that Bush's economic policy is impoverishing Americans and harming the country's prestige in the world. Fighting words – and ones that no doubt will get rewarded if the political battle is won.
“Whatever has happened since Yukos hasn't changed the underlying business risk, or the ability of people to get things done”.
After the Russian government's assault on oil giant Yukos, it's still business as usual for Russia's private equity practitioners, according to Alistair Stobie of Moscow-based high tech investor DFJ Nexus.
“If I thought all I was good for was to invest money for pension funds, I think I would put a gun in my ear. I hope to Christ that's not why I was put on this earth. Man, I hope I have other interesting and fun things to do”.
Ted Forstmann, speaking to the New York Times, reveals his feelings about running money on behalf of US pension plans.
“In our industry you can do a terrible job for four or five years and no one will notice”.
Michael Elias, managing director of London-based VC Kennet Capital, on how venture capital's long-term nature mitigates against short-term accountability. EVCA Technology Investment Conference, Barcelona, October 2004.