George R. Roberts is the co-chairman and co-CEO of the private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR). Founded in 1976, the company has become the foremost pioneer in the practice of leveraged buyouts throughout the years. Today, the New York-based firm is one of the top private equity companies in the country, with over $95 billion in assets under management.
George R. Roberts is a self-made billionaire, and has consistently ranked on the Forbes 400 list. He graduated Claremont McKenna College in 1966 before attending the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Out of college, Roberts went to work for invest bank Bear Stearns, becoming partner at the age of 29. While at Bear Stearns, Roberts, alongside his cousins Jerome Kohlberg, Jr. and Henry Kravis, began a series of “bootstrap” investments. Their acquisition of Orkin Exterminating Company in 1964 was among the first leveraged buyout transactions.
In 1976, Roberts, alongside Kohlberg and Kravis, departed from Bear Stearns to form their own company, KKR. A large reason the trio left Bear Stearns was due to executive Cy Lewis, who took advantage of the amount of time they spent on outside activities and had rejected several proposals to form a dedicated investment fund.
In 1968, Roberts married Leanne Bovet, the daughter of Eric Bovet and Dorothy Champion. With Bovet he had three children, Eric, Mark and Courtney Roberts. Bovet died in 2003 after a short illness, and in 2010 Roberts remarried to Goldman Sachs partner Linnea Conrad.
In 2012, Roberts made headlines for his $50 million gift to alma mater Claremont McKenna College. In honor of his donation, the college named a new athletic facility after him, naming it the Roberts Pavilion. Roberts is also a trustee of the college. “CMC is a place that continues to grow and excel, and it is a privilege to support its terrific momentum,” Roberts said in a statement about his gift to the college.
Roberts is also the founder and chairman of the board of directors for non-profit organizations such as the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund that focuses on job creation. REDF has invested tens of millions of dollars into more than fifty social enterprises that have employed over 9,000 people in the state of California.