Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#317 George Roberts $5.34B

Random fact: Put up $10,000 to start KKR with his cousin Henry Kravis.

Overview

Roberts is co-chairman of KKR & Co., a buyout firm that manages $130 billion in assets. He invested $10,000 in the New York-based company, whose investment funds collected $33.8 billion in profits between 1976 and 1996. Roberts owns 20 percent of the business, which has interests in manufacturing, energy, technology and retail.

As of July 21, 2017:
Last change -$12.1M (-0.2%)
YTD change +$543M (+11.3%)
Industry Finance
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship United States
Age 73
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

George Roberts's net worth of $5.34B can buy ...

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Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Most of Roberts' fortune stems from the profits he has earned during his 36 years at the helm of buyout firm KKR. From 1976 to 1996, KKR funds generated $33.8 billion in profits, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Based on typical industry practice, KKR probably took 20 percent of the profits, the majority of which were split evenly by Roberts and his partner, Henry Kravis. A third co-founder, Jerome Kohlberg, left the firm in 1987. KKR had $129.6 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2016, according to the company website.

The billionaire also receives tens of millions of dollars in payouts from the carried interest pool each year, according to KKR annual reports.

Roberts contributed $10,000 in capital to start KKR in 1976, the only money he ever put into the business, according "The New Tycoons: Inside the Trillion-Dollar Private Equity Industry That Owns Everything," a book by Bloomberg News editor Jason Kelly.

KKR became publicly traded when it reorganized and merged with a public Amsterdam subsidiary in 2010. This company maintains a 30 percent interest in KKR's closely held partnership. The billionaire's total sharecount including convertible interests in the closely held partnership, is disclosed in the 2015 annual report.

KKR spokesperson Jenny Farrelly said Roberts declined to comment on his net worth.

Biography

Birthdate: 9/14/1943
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: 1969, University of California Hastings College of The Law, JD 1966, Claremont Mckenna College, Bachelor's Degree

With cousin Henry Kravis and former boss Jerome Kohlberg, George Roberts founded KKR & Co., an early pioneer in leveraged buyouts. Today, KKR is the fourth-largest U.S. publicly traded private-equity company by assets under management, behind Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Apollo Global Management.

George Roberts was born in 1944 in Houston, Texas, and graduated from Culver Military Institute in 1962. He earned a degree from Claremont McKenna College four years later.

The relationships that led to KKR were formed at Bear Stearns, where Kravis and Roberts worked for Kohlberg in the corporate finance division. The trio began what they called bootstrap investments to acquire and revive companies that they believed were operating below their potential. After Bear declined a proposal to form a division dedicated to the practice, the three left to form KKR in 1976. Kravis and Roberts each invested $10,000, while Kohlberg contributed $100,000.

Kohlberg left over a disagreement on strategy in 1987. Kravis and Roberts bought RJR Nabisco in a $30 billion leveraged buyout in 1988, a deal memorialized in the book Barbarians at the Gate. From 1976 to June 2010, KKR funds generated $43.8 billion in profit, a total return of 91 percent. In 2010, KKR listed shares on the New York Stock Exchange; the publicly traded entity represents 30 percent of the KKR partnership.

Milestones
  • 1944 George Roberts is born in Houston, Texas.
  • 1966 Graduates from Claremont McKenna College in California.
  • 1969 Earns law degree from Hastings College.
  • 1976 Co-founds KKR. First fund invests $31 million, earns $506 million.
  • 1984 KKR engages in its first billion-dollar buyout.
  • 1986 Buys Safeway Stores, then the world's largest food retailer.
  • 1988 KKR bids against a Shearson Lehman group for RJR Nabisco.
  • 2010 Shares of KKR begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.