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Telling Fortunes

No. 23: David Bonderman

Age: 70Home: Fort WorthNet Worth: $2.6 billion

David Bonderman is known as a takeover artist. In 1992, when he was running Fort Worth billionaire Robert Bass’s investments, Bass balked at taking over Continental Airlines, which was undergoing its second bankruptcy in a decade. So Bonderman and a colleague struck out on their own, purchasing Continental for $66 million and forming the firm TPG. Five years later, the airline was valued at more than $700 million. Today, after twenty years of buying and selling and buying back companies as diverse as Harrah’s, Petco, and J. Crew, TPG is rated the world’s largest private equity sponsor. A Harvard law grad who favors left-leaning politics and garish socks, Bonderman pushes the companies he takes over to pursue sustainability and avoids businesses related to guns and tobacco. “Things that kill people,” he told Private Equity International, “we try to stay away from.”


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