George R. Roberts

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George Rosenberg Roberts
Born1944 (age 74–75)
ResidenceAtherton, California, U.S.
Alma materClaremont McKenna College
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
OccupationCo-founder, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
Net worth$5.9 billion (July 2018)[1]
Spouse(s)Leanne Bovet (1968–2003)
Linnea Conrad (2010–present)
Children3 (with Bovet)

George R. Roberts is an American billionaire financier, and one of the three original partners of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which he co-founded alongside Jerome Kohlberg and first cousin Henry Kravis in 1976.

Early life[edit]

George Roberts was born into a Jewish[2] family in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1962 and received that institution's "Man of the Year" Award in 1998. He attended Claremont McKenna College, graduating in 1966, and the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, graduating in 1969.[3]


Roberts worked for Bear Stearns in the late 1960s and early 1970s becoming a partner at the age of 29.[2] While at Bear Stearns, Roberts, alongside Kohlberg and Kravis, began a series of what they described as "bootstrap" investments. Their acquisition of Orkin Exterminating Company in 1964 is among the first significant leveraged buyout transactions. In the following years the three Bear Stearns bankers would complete a series of buyouts including Stern Metals (1965), Incom (a division of Rockwood International, 1971), Cobblers Industries (1971), and Boren Clay (1973) as well as Thompson Wire, Eagle Motors and Barrows through their investment in Stern Metals. Although they had a number of highly successful investments, the $27 million investment in Cobblers ended in bankruptcy.[4]

By 1976, tensions had built up between Bear Stearns and the trio of Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts leading to their departure and the formation of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in that year. Most notably, Bear Stearns executive Cy Lewis had rejected repeated proposals to form a dedicated investment fund within Bear Stearns and Lewis took exception to the amount of time spent on outside activities.[5] Early investors in KKR included Henry Hillman[6] By 1978, with the revision of the ERISA regulations, the nascent KKR was successful in raising the first institutional fund with investor commitments.[7]

He has an estimated net worth of $5.9 billion as of 2018.[1] Much of this wealth came through his position at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. In 1989 Roberts and Kravis led one of the most famous leveraged buyouts (LBOs) in the takeover of RJR Nabisco. Roberts' involvement in the RJR Nabisco deal was profiled prominently in the book and movie, Barbarians at the Gate.[8] Roberts was featured on the cover of FORTUNE Magazine at the height of the buyout boom of the 1980s alongside his cousin and partner, Henry Kravis.

Personal life[edit]

In 1968, he married Leanne Bovet, daughter of Eric B. Bovet and Dorothy Champion of San Mateo, California.[9][10] Leanne's father was a member of the Swiss Borel family of San Mateo being the son of Swiss immigrant Louis Bovet and Grace Borel (the daughter of the family patriarch, Swiss immigrant Antoine Borel, a prominent banker in San Mateo, California).[11][12] She died in 2003.[13] The couple had three children, Eric, Mark and Courtney.

On May 22, 2010, he married Goldman Sachs partner Linnea Conrad.[14]

Philanthropic and public positions[edit]

Roberts is the founder and chairman of the boards of directors of non-profit organizations such as the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund that focuses on job creation.[15] He also serves as a trustee of Claremont McKenna College and Culver Military Academy, and is a board member of San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, and the Fine Arts Museum.[16] In 2012, he gave $50 million to Claremont McKenna College.[17]


  1. ^ a b "George Roberts". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  2. ^ a b "The world's 50 Richest Jews: 41-50 - #44 George R. Roberts", September 7, 2010.
  3. ^ "Roberts winning 'Man of the Year' award". Archived from the original on May 9, 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2006.
  4. ^ profile; accessed September 18, 2014.
  5. ^ In 1976, Kravis was forced to serve as interim CEO of a failing direct mail company Advo.
  6. ^ Refers to Henry Hillman and the Hillman Company. The Hillman Company ( profile)
  7. ^ Talmor, Eli and Vasvari, Florin. International Private Equity, 2011.
  8. ^ According to, Roberts was portrayed in the film version by actor Peter Dvorsky
  9. ^ Stanford Obituaries July 2010 retrieved July 21, 2012
  10. ^ Berkeley Daily Gazette July 2, 1941
  11. ^ The Borel Traditions Live On,; accessed September 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "Grace Bovet dies at 82", san-mateo-times; December 29, 1958.
  13. ^ New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths ROBERTS, LEANNE BOVET",, May 11, 2003.
  14. ^ New York Times Dealbook: "Buyout Firms’ Reinvention, With Wall St. Castoffs" by Peter Lattman, accessed September 18, 2014.
  15. ^ "REDF - An investment that works". REDF. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  16. ^ Business Week retrieved July 20, 2012
  17. ^ "Billionaire KKR Co-Founder George Roberts Gives $50 Million To Claremont McKenna College",; accessed September 18, 2014.

External links[edit]