1. You recently joined Lee Equity Partners as senior adviser after running NBC/Universal, a TV network, for more than 20 years. What prompted you to follow that by entering the world of buyouts?
I’ve been talking with Tom Lee for some time about his new fund and his interest in reconstituting himself around a separate group people with a new fund. It’s a really good spot for me because I can play a major role in helping to guide the businesses in areas I’m familiar with. Media is the area I’ve worked in most recently, but I’ve also done a lot of mergers and acquisitions to build NBC/Universal to what it is. I have a long history of doing deals and also an operations background, so I think my experience dovetails quite well with the work that we’re doing at Lee Equity.
2. So which side of the buyout business interests you more—deal-making or operations?
On a personal note, I’d want to be more heavily engaged in the deal-making piece. I’m not looking to take a senior operational role but wouldn’t be averse to being on a board or actively following a company we have invested in. Then the goal becomes trying to make a business as good as it possibly can be. That’s part of our model at Lee Equity, providing operational support to a business and I think I can add to our team’s capabilities in that area.
3. How will your experience translate to your new role at Lee Equity?
We’re a young business so we’re not in the situation of having a lot of businesses on the waiting list to be brought public or sold. We’re looking at businesses at a time in the cycle where they aren’t as strong as they have been in the past and that’s not a bad thing from our perspective. Many people are going to be looking at selling off parts of their businesses, so hopefully we can find things that have long-term potential at attractive prices.
4. Speaking of divestitures, there’s a perpetual rumor that GE would divest NBC/Universal. Would it be a good target for a private equity carve-out?
Lee Equity would not be geared for that sort of thing. We’re geared toward more of the mid-market side of things.
5. Will you focus solely on media?
In general, yes, but I’ll be working in the financial services areas as well. Before NBC/Universal, I was CEO of GE Capital 20 years ago and have been on that board for many years. Financial services and media are the two areas I’d spend more time on than others.
6. What is your favorite NBC show?
When I first got there it was The Cosby Show, and in later years it was Seinfeld. Today I’d say The Office or 30 Rock. 30 Rock should have five times the viewers it does.
Edited for clarity