The Business on Leon Black: Apollo Global Management

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The Independent Online

Who he?

Only one of the richest and most powerful private equity barons in the world today. Unlike some of his peers, Mr Black tries to shun the limelight, but that is about to change. Apollo, the firm he founded in 1990, has filed to become the third private equity giant to go public. The flotation values it at about $2.1bn, with Mr Black and his co-founders holding on to 67 per cent of the company.

Smart guy?

Famously smart. At Drexel Burnham Lambert during the junk bond boom of the Eighties he was head of its mergers and acquisitions division. In the book Barbarians at the Gate, he is described as "the savvy financing expert who brought to life many of Michael Milken's ideas". Milken, of course, went to prison; Mr Black emerged unscathed from the collapse and went on to found Apollo.

Nice guy?

Well, he has something of a temper, according to former colleagues, and business rivals grumble about Apollo's sharp elbows, but he is also a pillar of the New York community, a patron of educational charities, a collector of art and a sponsor of a Shakespearean studies chair at his alma mater, Dartmouth.

Not really a barbarian at the gate, then?

"Art and literature are what differentiate us from barbarians," he has said.

What's his track record like?

Strong. In the boom times, when Apollo and everyone else was rolling around in cheap debt, it bought up a portfolio of assets that included Countrywide estate agency in the UK. The last few years have been wobbly – Claire's Accessories floundered, and Countrywide, its UK estate agency, had to be refinanced. But since then, Apollo has turned its focus to buying up distressed debt at rock-bottom prices – just the sort of deals that got Mr Black started in the first place.