Fred Krimendahl, Ex-Goldman Sachs ‘Fix-It’ Man, Dies at 85

H. Frederick Krimendahl II, a top troubleshooter for Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the 1970s and 1980s whose broad responsibilities included finding the home for the firm’s London office, has died. He was 85.

He died on Jan. 21 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, according to his wife, Emilia Saint-Amand. The cause was pneumonia. Until suffering a stroke in June he was working as chairman of Petrus Partners Ltd., a New York-based real estate investment firm that he co-founded in 1992.

At Goldman Sachs, which he joined in 1953, Krimendahl rose to managing partner, headed recruitment and created the corporate finance department. He served with George Doty, Robert Rubin, Robert Mnuchin and others on the management committee during the “Two Johns” regime of John Whitehead and John Weinberg.

He was among the leaders “especially admired as culture carriers and exemplars” when the firm was a private partnership, and “originally suggested” that the firm go public, long before it did so in 1999, according to “The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs,” Charles D. Ellis’s 2008 book.

“Fred’s professionalism, dedication to our culture and focus on our clients were hallmarks of his 34-year career at the firm,” Lloyd C. Blankfein, chief executive officer, and Gary D. Cohn, president, said Jan. 24 in a message to employees.

‘Fix Anything’

Krimendahl’s role as partner in charge of administrative operations made him the point person for diverse challenges such as a burst pipe that flooded the company’s computer center at its headquarters in July 1987.

“He was called ‘Fred the Fix-It,’” his wife said yesterday in an interview. “He could fix anything.”

Real estate was a particular passion. In late 1986, he moved swiftly to find a new home for the firm in London, where it was outgrowing its original office, which opened on Wood Street in 1970.

He saw his chance when the Daily Telegraph newspaper moved its printing presses to the London Docklands from a “cavernous building” on Fleet Street, Ellis wrote. Given just a week to close a deal, Krimendahl “quickly organized a Channel Islands company for tax reasons and bought the property -- only to be criticized for not clearing it with the management committee,” Ellis wrote. “The move was a great success.”

Into Asia

The new London office, at 133 Fleet St., is part of what is now known as Peterborough Court and is still the U.K. base for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which the bank became after going public.

Krimendahl had a hand as well in the firm’s move into Asia, dispatching fellow partner Roy C. Smith to Japan to assess business opportunities. In 1969, Smith, now a finance professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, made the first of his 50-plus trips to Japan, accompanying two senior partners, Charles E. Saltzman, a onetime U.S. undersecretary of state, and Henry H. Fowler, a former U.S. Treasury secretary.

“We landed some prestigious business early, and opened an office in Tokyo two years later which has grown steadily over the years,” Smith said yesterday in an e-mail.

Even after leaving day-to-day management and becoming a limited partner in 1987, Krimendahl was viewed as a leader.

Assessing Liability

In 1995, when Goldman Sachs was looking to settle lawsuits filed by pension funds defrauded by publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, a longtime client, he was named to represent the interests of all limited partners, who would have to contribute to a settlement.

As “two well-respected limited partners,” Krimendahl and James Gorter were given access to the evidence of the case against the firm, which was weighing a settlement even while “staunchly maintaining its innocence,” Lisa Endlich wrote in “Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success” (1999).

Krimendahl and Gorter concluded that the plaintiffs had a strong case, meaning that limited partners “who had never been given the details of the firm’s actions with regard to Maxwell were told simply to take out their checkbooks,” Endlich wrote. Goldman Sachs paid an estimated $253 million, which, according to the New York Times, was billed to 164 partners from 1989 until 1991, 84 of whom were limited partners.

Herbert Frederick Krimendahl II was born on Oct. 28, 1928, in Cincinnati, the second of two sons born to Herbert and Mary Bess Krimendahl. His father rose to president of Stokely-Van Camp Inc., a food-canning company based in Indianapolis.

Military Service

Krimendahl graduated from Ohio State University in 1950 and from Harvard Business School in 1952. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant.

At Goldman Sachs, he became a partner in 1962 and was named to the management committee in 1975.

He created Petrus Partners with Frank J. Walter III, a former Goldman Sachs colleague, and Wesley C. Huang, a former investment banker at Bear Stearns Cos. With its affiliate, Crown West Realty LLC, Petrus owns or co-owns 9 million square feet of office, mixed-use, warehouse and manufacturing properties, according to its website. About two-thirds of its investment capital has come from retired Goldman Sachs partners.

As president of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, which runs the New York Philharmonic, Krimendahl helped sign Kurt Masur as conductor, beginning in 1991. Krimendahl also was a former director of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

His cultural taste also extended to professional football, specifically to the New York Giants. “He never missed a home game until he got sick,” Saint-Amand said.

His first wife, the former Constance McCown, died in 1989. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Nancy, who survive him, as does Saint-Amand.

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