Theodore (“Teddy”) Forstmann was a legendary financier who helped usher in the modern buyout era. His firm, Forstmann Little, was a pioneer in developing new ways of using debt to acquire companies, such as through an in-house subordinated debt fund. In recent years, Forstmann’s primary business interest was IMG, the entertainment and sports agency that he acquired in 2004. Below are selected memories from colleagues, friends and competitors:Henry R. Kravis, a long-time Forstmann Little rival as co-founder and co-chairman of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
No matter what he undertook, whether it be private equity or philanthropy or sports, it didn’t matter. He was passionate about it. He was extremely competitive. He did everything extremely well. He was a man who had a lot to be proud of.
He turned around IMG and Gulfstream, and he did those things personally. He was a fantastic father. He was incredible with his kids. I have a lot of respect for him.
Steve Klinsky worked at Forstmann Little from 1984 until 1999, when he left to found New Mountain Capital
Ted Forstmann was a great natural entrepreneur and a real pioneer in our industry. He was sincerely charitable to many good causes, and always tried to conduct his business affairs on a level that tied back to his own strongly held beliefs and values. He was a fighter by nature, and a fighter for good causes.
Ted made a big impact in my own life. He showed by example how to step forward and take action when action is required, both in building great businesses and in fighting for good causes.
Sandra Horbach, managing director and head of the Carlyle Group’s global consumer and retail team, joined Forstmann Little in 1987 after earning her MBA at Stanford University
Ted was an amazing mentor, partner and friend to me for much of my professional career. He was a brilliant investor, and taught me how to think unconventionally and creatively when looking at new investment opportunities, as well as how to create real value by investing in growth and building great businesses such as Gulfstream, Yankee Candle and Community Health.
Ted also had a huge heart; he really cared about people, and would always go out of his way to help someone. His generosity of spirit, even in difficult situations, has been an inspiration to me and serves as an example I try to live by every day.
Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under President Richard Nixon and member of Forstmann Little’s advisory board
Forstmann Little reflected the qualities of its founder and chairman: reliability, analytical skill and foresight. Teddy was an inspiring colleague and indispensable friend.
George Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan and member of Forstmann Little’s advisory board
Under his leadership, the board had constructive and penetrating discussions but we also had fun. Now, every time I step on any kind of plane, I think of Teddy and his magnificent accomplishments.
Colin Powell, secretary of state under President George W. Bush and member of Forstmann Little’s advisory board
Teddy introduced me to the world of business and I will always be grateful to him for extending his hand to me, embracing me and making me his friend and business associate. My story is not that different from so many other people who were touched by the Teddy magic.
Compiled by Gregory Roth