From Hellman to Hammarskjold

San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman is now a rarity among major private equity firms: none of its leaders have their names on the door.

The departure of co-founder Warren Hellman was confirmed in a recent disclosure from a limited partner, the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System (LACERS). Hellman, who co-founded the firm with Tully Friedman in 1987, will remain on the investment committee but will be replaced as chairman by former chief executive Brian Powers. Friedman left to co-found Friedman Fleischer & Lowe in 1998.

Called to the vacated chief executive position is Philip Hammarskjold, 43, the managing director behind many of Hellman & Friedman's greatest investment hits, including DoubleClick. Under Hammarskjold's leadership, the firm and its co-investment partners paid $1.1 billion to take the online advertising company private in 2005. Two years later DoubleClick was sold to Google for $3.1 billion, netting the private equity sponsors a reported 10-times return.

Like the rest of the Hellman & Friedman team, Hammarskjold is a linear thinker and intensely numbers-driven, according to someone who has worked with him. But like banjo-playing Warren Hellman, Hammarskjold also has charisma and the ability to keep his ego in check. Most people who meet Hammarskjold immediately get the impression that he is a talented investor with the additional attribute of having a welcome balance to his personality, says the source.

Hellman & Friedman is currently raising a fund with a $10 billion hard cap, and will be hoping LPs identify the mixture of art and science that has fueled the firm's successes in the new leadership line-up. For its part, LACERS has agreed to commit $20 million.