During its more than three decades in existence, the prestigious private equity firm KKR has long relied on one area of business: the leveraged buyout. It made a huge name for itself, as well as billions of dollars, in the LBO businesss. It also grew quite stagnant, and watched as its competitors -- Blackstone, Apollo, Carlyle and TPG -- diversified into other areas, passing it by. (In fact, it was Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman who, in 1998, famously called KKR a "one-trick pony.")
Recently, though, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (first cousins Kravis and Roberts are pictured at left) has been doing some diversifying of its own, breaking ground on eight new business lines, going public, and reinventing itself as a one-stop shop for pension funds, college endowments and oil sheiks -- all of whom are looking for more interesting vehicles to ride on to riches than the old LBO.
Which reminds me, this year in our annual Banking Survey (now underway) we've added a new question that asks respondents to rank banks such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley in terms of prestige alongside some of the top firms in the hedge fund and PE business, such as Apollo, TPG and KKR.
And it'll certainly be interesting to see which blue chip financial horses come out on top.
(The Deal: Reinventing KKR)
(Vault 2011 Banking Rankings - Prestige)