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Joseph Rice to Leave as Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Chairman

Joseph Rice III, chairman of the private-equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, will step down later this year, the company told its investors.

Rice, 80, will leave in June, the New York-based firm said yesterday in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. The firm declined to comment.

Clayton Dubilier is one of the oldest private-equity firms. Rice, a lawyer, was at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP before working in investment banking and leveraged buyouts and helped form the firm that bears his name in 1978.

“Joe is an extraordinary partner to me and many others who have had the opportunity to work in the firm over the past 34 years,” Chief Executive Officer Donald Gogel wrote in the letter. “Equally significant, Joe is a great partner to the more than 150 investors that have entrusted us with their capital over the years and to dozens of our portfolio company CEOs.”

The firm specializes in so-called carve-out deals, in which it buys unwanted or underperforming divisions of larger corporations such as Xerox Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice was among the first to hire former corporate executives, known as operating partners, to advise on deals. The firm counts former General Electric Co. Chairman Jack Welch among its advisers.

Rice graduated from Williams College, where he is now a trustee emeritus, and was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps before earning a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1960. He’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is among a small number of private-equity firms that have successfully transferred management from the founders. Gogel became CEO in 1998.

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