Burkle in 2006
|Born||Ronald Wayne Burkle
November 12, 1952
Pomona, California, U.S.
|Residence||London, United Kingdom|
|Occupation||Co-Founder and Managing Partner
The Yucaipa Companies, LLC
|Net worth||US$ 2.9 billion|
Ronald Wayne Burkle (born November 12, 1952) is an American business magnate. He is co-founder and managing partner of The Yucaipa Companies, LLC, a private equity and venture capital firm that specializes in underperforming U.S. companies in the distribution, logistics, food, retail, consumer and light industrial sectors. Yucaipa has executed grocery chain mergers and acquisitions involving supermarket chains including Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and Jurgensen's, and owns stakes in about 35 companies including grocery chains A&P and Whole Foods Market.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Political activities
- 4 Awards and recognition
- 5 Philanthropy
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Controversies
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Ron Burkle was born on Nov. 12, 1952, the first of two sons, to Betty and Joseph Burkle in Pomona, California. Joseph worked seven days a week, managing a Stater Bros. grocery store in Pomona and investing his savings in apartment buildings. To see his father, Burkle stocked shelves in his father's store with bread and corralled shopping carts. By age 13, Burkle had joined Box Boy Local 770. At age 16, he graduated from high school and entered California State Polytechnic University in Pomona to become a dentist. Less than two years later, Burkle dropped out. At age 21, Burkle married Janet Steeper, a Stater Bros. clerk and great-grandniece of the aviation pioneers, the Wright brothers. Burkle and Janet would have three children together. Burkle parlayed a $3,000 investment in American Silver and another metals company into $30,000 and began investing in and flipping undervalued grocery stores. Burkle made at least one deal with assistance junk bond financier Michael Milken.
Burkle was promoted to store manager at Stater Bros. and later became a vice president at Petrolane, Inc., Stater’s parent company. When Burkle was 29, Petrolane decided to sell Stater Bros. Burkle secretly organized a leveraged buyout with Charles Munger, the vice-chairman of Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway, who agreed put up half of the equity. Burkle made his bid to Petrolane's board that was 20% lower than Petrolane’s internal valuation. The board rejected Burkle's offer and fired him. Burkle's portfolio was by then worth some $5 million and during the next five years he continued to invest in stocks and oversaw his family’s rental properties.
Burkle has served as chairman of the board and controlling shareholder of numerous companies, including Alliance Entertainment, Golden State Foods, Dominick's, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and Food4Less. He is currently a member of the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, KB Home, and Yahoo!
He is part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League team, although his current share is unknown. He co-owns the franchise with Penguins legend Mario Lemieux. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009.
He has invested in technology startup companies through A-Grade Investments, a venture capital fund founded by Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle. A-Grade's investments include SeatGeek, SoundCloud and Airbnb.
Wild Oats Markets was an operator of natural foods stores and farmers' markets in North America. Burkle started buying Wild Oats stock in February 2005. By the time Whole Foods Market, a natural-foods grocer, agreed to pay $565 million for Wild Oats, Burkle was the largest shareholder of Wild Oats.
Golden State Foods
Burkle sold his majority stake in supplier Golden State Foods to St. Louis-based Wetterau Associates for about $110 million. Golden State, one of McDonald's biggest suppliers, operates 11 distribution centers in the United States and abroad and two U.S. processing plants.
Investments and transactions
Burkle's investments and transactions include:
- Sold Dominick's chain to Safeway in 1998 for over $200 million in profits;
- Owns 20.7% stake in Americold Realty Trust;
- Leveraged buyouts of Jurgensen's, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, and Ralphs supermarket chains, and sold to Kroger for $13.5 billion;
- Signed Fleming Companies, Inc. as sole food supplier to Kmart;
- Majority stake in Pathmark grocery stores;
- Cyrk, the former Beanie Baby promotion agency;
- Merged Alliance Entertainment with Source Interlink;
- 49% of British jewelry brand Stephen Webster purchased in 2007;
- Invested $100 million in Sean Combs's (P. Diddy) Sean John clothing line;
- Purchased Enthusiast Media publications and assets of Primedia for $1.2 billion;
- Burkle's investment firm, Yucaipa Cos., owns 18.7% of the common stock of Barnes & Noble. In early 2010 he sought to raise his stake to 37% without triggering the shareholders' rights plan; Chairman Len Riggio, with 27.8% ownership of the bookseller's common stock, is Barnes & Noble's largest shareholder;
- Owns 6% stake in American Apparel, Inc.
- In an attempted transaction, Burkle made an offer to purchase the financially troubled Sacramento Kings franchise and prevent the team from relocating to Anaheim; Burkle's plan was rejected by the current owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof.
- A significant equity stake in Relativity Media.
Burkle has personally contributed millions of dollars to the Democratic Party and raised an estimated $100 million at celebrity-studded fundraising events he hosted for democratic candidates at his Green Acres Estate in Beverly Hills, CA. Burkle has hosted fundraisers for Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Cory Booker and Terry McAuliffe, as well as former Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.
During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Burkle was a key fundraiser and they became close friends. In 2002, Burkle hired Clinton as a senior advisor on two Yucaipa domestic investment funds. Clinton also invested in a Yucaipa global fund focused on foreign companies. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton expressed concern that such investments could be used by foreign governments as "instruments of foreign policy." In 2009 Bill Clinton ended his relationship with Yucaipa to protect Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign from potential conflicts of interest. Following “months” of negotiations, Burkle and Clinton were not able to agree on a final payment for Clinton’s advisory services, estimated at up to $20 million, and Clinton “walked away” from the potential payout.
Awards and recognition
Burkle’s honors and awards include the Los Angeles County Boy Scouts Jimmy Stewart “Good Turn” Award, the AIDS Project Los Angeles Commitment to Life Award, and the Los Angeles Urban League Whitney M. Young Award. Burkle has received numerous honors and awards from labor including the AFL-CIO Murray Green Meany Kirkland Community Service Award and The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Man of the Year.
Ronald W. Burkle Foundation
Burkle is founder and chairman of the board of The Ronald W. Burkle Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to “positively influence people around the world and their communities” by supporting programs that “strengthen international understanding, foster worker’s rights, empower underserved communities, nurture the arts and architecture, engage children in learning and advance scientific research.”
Burkle Center for International Relations
Burkle serves as co-chairman of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, which “fosters research on and promotes discussion of international relations, U.S. foreign policy, and complex issues of global cooperation and conflict.” The Burkle Center has hosted eminent figures in world affairs including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Burkle is a trustee of The Carter Center, the National Urban League, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and AIDS Project Los Angeles. He is a past board member of the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Music Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Burkle is a fan of historic architecture. In 2011 he purchased  the partially restored Ennis House, a Los Angeles landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Burkle also owns Greenacres, an estate built for Harold Lloyd. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Burkle aspired to be an architect as a teenager.
In April 2006, Burkle accused New York Post columnist Jared Paul Stern of attempting to extort money from him in exchange for stopping the publication of stories in Page Six, the paper's gossip column, about his private life. Burkle secretly videotaped two private meetings between himself and Stern, with the second meeting orchestrated and monitored by the FBI. Stern allegedly asked Burkle for a $220,000 investment in his clothing business in exchange for better coverage. Stern was subsequently fired by the Post.
Follieri and the Vati-Con scandal
On April 30, 2008, a Delaware judge dismissed Burkle's lawsuit against Raffaello Follieri, ex-boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway, after he agreed to repay $1.3 million Burkle loaned to him in the Vati-Con Scandal.
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- Wortham, Jenna (2011-05-25). "Ashton Kutcher Knows His Start-Ups". NY Times.
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- "Burkle sells 51% stake in Golden State Foods". Nation's Restaurant News. 2004-02-16.
- Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2010-03-01). "Burkle Presses Barnes & Noble on Stake". The Wall Street Journal.
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- Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2010-02-19). "Barnes & Noble Won't Let Burkle Raise Stakes". The Wall Street Journal.
- Holmes, Elizabeth (2010-06-25). "Ron Burkle Reports 6% Stake In American Apparel". The Wall Street Journal.
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- article http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11199/1161169-84-0.stm
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- "Side Dish". Daily News (New York). 2008-04-30.
- Bruck, Connie: “Cashier du Cinema - Aftersupermarkets, privat equity and politic , Ron Burkle makes a move on Hollywood“. The New Yorker, Oct 8 2012, Pages 76 to 87.
- The Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA
- Ronald W. Burkle Foundation
- The Yucaipa Companies
- Ron Burkle's federal campaign contributions at newsmeat.com
- Forbes - The 400 Richest Americans 2005
- Ennis House
- The Complete Ron Burkle Jason Horowitz, The New York Observer April 12, 2007
- Gore reinvents television with the debut of Current Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times, August 2, 2005
- Yellow Peril Ron Burkle, Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2006, about the Payola Six Scandal
- Billionaire and Post Writer in Dance of Tips and Turns New York Times, April 12, 2006
- Ex-Post Keyholer Says He’s Cleared on Extortion Rap Choire Sicha, The New York Observer, January 29, 2007
- Burkle's Source Agrees to Buy Primedia Magazine Group (Update4) Leon Lazaroff, Bloomberg.com, May 14, 2007
- Dow Jones Union Asks Tycoons to explore Alternatives to News Corp Bid Forbes, 1 October 2007
- Clintons Earned $109 Million in 8 Years Washington Post, 5 April 2008
- Aloha Bankruptcy Scheme Approved BBC News, 30 November 2005; accessed 31 March 2008
- Belko, Mark (May 16, 2010). "The secret life of Ron Burkle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 17, 2010.