In June, Genereal David Petraeus took a new position at private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) as the head of the new KKR Global Institute. The former CIA Director will lend his expertise in international relations to KKR’s expanding portfolio overseas, and assist in developing economies worldwide.
When asked why he wanted to join KKR, General Petraeus explained, “I was continually impressed by the leaders at KKR, by the culture and the values to which you subscribe, and the model of the way KKR has gone global in the last five years. Its investment in a variety of intellectual initiatives as well as investing in companies and the KKR Global Institute concept is the next step in us bringing together all of the different capabilities that KKR has developed as we seek additional locations and additional sectors in which we can invest.”
At the Global Institute, General Petraeus will focus on energy, manufacturing, life sciences and information technology. He, along with Ken Mehlman, the global head of public affairs, will travel to as many countries as possible and look for new opportunities to invest and develop emerging sectors. Mehlman recently discussed how KKR is the most experienced private equity firm in business operations. Their investment activities increasingly include assistance in business development, and the firm has over sixty people who are experts in operations management.
The private equity industry was born out of a need for businesses to have access to capital and improve. However, Mehlman says in the past many companies did not have any investment focus and did not have incentive to improve operations. The role of private equity is to focus on improving the company and produce high returns. Partnering with investment firms improves accountability and keeps the efforts fresh and motivated to improve ways of doing business.
Ken Mehlman believes that General Petraeus will be a valuable asset in helping the firm understand macroeconomic, geopolitical landscapes, governance and regulations that factor into investing globally. As the director of an intelligence agency, Petraeus understands key industries impact the United States and other governments around the world. The combination of his knowledge and skills will enhance the team at the KKR Global Institute, and lead the firm in making better investments.