37, private equity potentate, Austin/New York
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If you were the guy who shepherded the largest leveraged buyout in history, you’d be on this list too. It was early in 2007 when we became aware of the Austin-bred honors graduate of both UT and Harvard Business School who now inhabits the off-the-radar-screen world of private equity; he was, we learned, the partner representing his firm, TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group), of Fort Worth, in its talks with Dallas-based TXU. The price tag for the state’s second-largest power company was stratospheric—$48 billion—and so were the stakes: TXU had been planning to build eleven coal-fired power plants across the state, but the new owners said they’d cut that number to three. There was also the matter of a promised 10 percent rate reduction (later increased to 15 percent), not to mention a generous shareholder payday. Processing information quickly, coaxing and cajoling and reassuring, the genial MacDougall kept the various constituencies—consumer watchdogs, labor unions, editorial writers, environs, and, most importantly, legislators from both parties—in conversation and in the tent. Miraculously, what Time called one of the biggest and best business deals of the year (surely not MacDougall’s last in Texas) got done. As a result, we can all breathe a bit easier about the future.