Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. is a private-equity pioneer that traces its origins to the founders' time at Bear Stearns in the 1960s where they orchestrated some of the first large leveraged buyouts. In 1976, Jerome Kohlberg, Jr., Henry Kravis and George R. Roberts broke away from Bear and formed KKR. Kohlberg left in 1987, but Kravis and Roberts still lead the firm today. The company has branched out from its roots as a leveraged-buyout house to become an investment bank, helping to underwrite deals, invest in infrastructure and manage clients' investment assets.
The company went public with a "back door" filing for its Amsterdam-listed affiliate fund and plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010. The listing is expected to provide a large capital base to fuel its growth, provide a currency to make acquisitions, and diversify away from leveraged buyouts since the environment for raising funds is now challenging. The company plans to extend its brand by expanding into the traditional money management business investing in public equities, as well as expand its capital markets business that helps sell the debt and equity of companies. In a first for KKR, the company was recently one of the lead underwriters on the initial public offering for Dollar General, thanks to a new alliance with mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments to sell off shares to the general public.
KKR first entered the general public's awareness with its contentious takeover of RJR Nabisco, which inspired the 1990 book "Barbarians at the Gate" and a made-for-TV movie.
KKR made several hires in 2009, expanding in the Mideast, opening a Dubai office and hiring Richmond Park Partners founder Stephen Berger, who had led Dresdner Kleinwort's investment bank.
For the folks who inspired "Barbarians at the Gate," they do a lot of talking about their values. KKR's core values are outlined in detail on its Web site. By the way, Barbarians is required reading for any serious candidate.
When you interview with KKR, make sure to check the Web site's robust employee profile section to learn about the KKR team member you'll be interviewing with.