Exit Strategy: Thirty four years of operating as a private equity firm has given us the opportunity to experience a wide range of investors. Each has brought their own skill sets, work habits and savvy to the conversation. Many last for a few years until they move elsewhere in their organization or in the investment world. Some, we are grateful, remain a constant for a decade or more. John Picone of IBM Pension is one of the investors with whom we have had the pleasure to work for nearly two decades. John’s era spanned a period when IBM Pension migrated from being one of the largest private equity investors to a point when IBM wisely immunized its U.S. pension liabilities, ceased investing in private equity and made John and his team an internal fund of funds for IBM’s international pension funds. Over this period, IBM’s and John’s role ranged from a very large investor/board member with us to an active co-investor. He was a very supportive, incisive questioner during periods including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 collapse, Dodd Frank and many other events that tilted the economy. One of our co-investments included pizza and hamburger franchise stores so John became an expert in theirmultiple foodstuffs that begged for statins to be added to the menu. Through the vagaries of the many highlights and the occasional lowlights, John was a wonderfully wise, supportive investor as he stayed very informed while calmly inquiring about both the worries and the challenges. As a great side benefit, he became my friend. It has been our pleasure to have worked with this classy, optimistic man and wish John and his family a great retirement.
I’m Rob Morris and I approved this blog.