KKR Retail Chief Who Led Dollar General LBO Said to Exit

KKR & Co., the private-equity firm led by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, said its head of retail investing, Michael Calbert, left the company after 14 years.

Calbert has been replaced by Nathaniel Taylor, a partner at the New York-based buyout firm, spokeswoman Kristi Huller said today in a telephone interview. KKR hired Calbert in 2000 from Randall’s Food Markets Inc., where he was chief financial officer when KKR bought the company three years earlier, according to a biography on KKR’s website that has been removed.

Calbert, a member of the board of retailer Dollar General Corp., led KKR’s $7.3 billion leveraged buyout of that company in July 2007. KKR sold the last of its stake in Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General in the fourth quarter, returning more than 4.5 times its investment. Calbert was also involved in the firm’s buyouts of Toys “R” Us Inc., which is struggling under its debt load, Pets at Home Ltd., US Foods and Academy Sports & Outdoors, according to the biography.

“Mike has played an important role in continuing our 30-year history of successful investing in the retail sector and we wish him well in his new endeavors,” KKR said in an e-mail from Huller. “Nate Taylor has been a key member of the retail team and we are confident he will continue KKR’s strong leadership in this space that has long benefited our investors.”

KKR, founded in 1976, started investing in retail companies when it bought grocery chain Fred Meyer Inc. in 1981, eventually more than quadrupling its investment. The firm has since invested about $6.7 billion of equity in retail companies and returned more than $20 billion to its investors.

Board Roles

Calbert, who was based in Menlo Park, Calif., will remain a consultant to KKR and continue representing the firm on the boards of US Foods and Academy Sports, Huller said.

Taylor is also based in Menlo Park, where KKR co-Chief Executive Officer Roberts has his primary office. Taylor, who worked on retail, health care and technology deals at Bain Capital Partners LLC before joining KKR in 2005, helped establish KKR’s operations in India and is on the boards of Toys “R” Us, US Foods and Academy Sports.

Taylor’s most recent deal was the leveraged buyout valued at more than $1 billion of National Vision Inc., the fourth-largest eyeglass retailer in the U.S. KKR agreed in February to purchase the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based company from buyout firm Berkshire Partners LLC, and the transaction is expected to close this month.

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