Thomas H. Lee, a pioneer in leveraged buyouts, is useless at 78

Whereas opponents targeted on the biggest doable targets, Mr. Lee recorded victories with medium-sized targets. He organized takeovers of corporations such because the vitamin chain GNC and the lingerie producer Playtex. In maybe his best-known coup, his firm purchased Snapple for $135 million in 1992 and bought it to Quaker Oats for $1.7 billion simply two years later, a revenue of greater than 30 occasions.

Solely $28 million of the Snapple funding got here from Thomas H. Lee Companions’ personal coffers.

It wasn’t simply the uncooked numbers that made Mr. Lee stand out. The perfect-known buyout specialists reveled of their function as so-called attackers who may rock a few of America’s largest corporations. Massive names of the period like Michael Milken, who was later jailed on securities costs, and Henry Kravis made for colourful, intimidating characters in books like Thieves’ Den and Barbarians on the Gate.

Mr. Lee went in a special course. His vice was smoking cigars and his pastime golf – hardly memorable logos amongst financiers. A 1993 New York Occasions headline with a portrait of him summed up a typical view of him: “In Takeover Video games, Good Guys Don’t All the time End Final Final”. The article described Mr. Lee as having “the looks of a tireless salesman who isn’t all the time accommodating and a professor who loves to clarify complicated issues.”

“I’m a pleasant man. I’ve by no means been poor and I don’t really feel like I’ve to show myself,” he stated in an interview for this text.

However within the ultimate years of his profession, Mr. Lee stumbled. His agency has written off its funding in fallen commodities dealer Refco totally after it was found that its CEO was hiding large money owed — an embarrassing setback that value buyers lots of of tens of millions of {dollars}. Mr. Lee left Thomas H. Lee Companions in 2006 on account of disagreements together with his executives and the corporate modified its title to THL Companions.

He briefly began his personal hedge funds earlier than closing them at heavy losses a couple of years later.

He’s survived by his spouse Ann Tenenbaum; 5 kids, Jesse, Nathan, Rosalie, Zach and Robert; and two grandchildren.

In his later years, as a eager donor to New York cultural causes, Mr. Lee retained his wit. In 2014, whereas accepting an award for donations to the UJA-Federation of New York, he drew roars of laughter from the group on the St. Regis Resort in Manhattan as he shared a tongue-in-cheek story about “the primary buyout” by a enterprise proprietor and his employed new one Son in legislation.

“It occurred at an ideal occasion like this,” stated Mr. Lee. “An amazing man was honored.”

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Hurubie Meko contributed to the protection.