MiB: Building Goldman Sachs’ Private Equity Business

How does one build out a merchant bank for a firm like Goldman Sachs?

If you are Henry Cornell, you start in Asia. In the late 1980s, Tokyo was the hottest country in the world. Cornell went there to expand the firm’s footprint in Japan. He hired 100s of new employees, and created Goldman’s reputation as a savvy private equity investor. After developing opportunities for private investing in Japan, he moved to Hong Kong in the early 1990s, just as China was beginning to become a more market-based economy.

Returning home to the United States, Cornell helped create and build the firm’s Merchant Banking division. He finished his career as Goldman’s Vice Chairman, before launching Cornell Capital in 2013. The manages $3 billion in long term private company investments.

Cornell co-invests with Goldman Sachs, Alibaba, and other well-known PE shops. The advantages of having spoken with 100s of CEOs and their network, means that the deal flow for private investments is a substantial advantage for the firm. Cornell explains how he developed an expertise in insurance, packaging, and consumer industrial companies, including firms like KDC, and Purell.

His favorite books are here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras, on Apple iTunes, Spotify, Overcast, Google, Bloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week, we speak with Jon Taffer, the star and creator of Bar Rescue, and one of the  first inductees in the Nightclub Hall of Fame, about the state of bars and restaurants under lockdown and beyond. Taffer is the author of Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back.



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