KKR elevates Bae, Nuttall to co-COOs, co-presidents

Two of the storied firm’s founders say the promotions are ‘about the future’ and making sure the firm can serve its investors ‘for decades to come’.

KKR is shuffling up its leadership as control of the firm’s daily operations are handed over to two company veterans, while several other members of senior leadership are departing.

The New York-based asset manager said on Monday that Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall were named co-presidents and co-chief operating officers. Henry Kravis and George Roberts will continue their roles as co-chairmen and co-chief executive officers.

Bae and Nuttall are taking the reins of the firm’s activities, with the men splitting up various strategies based on their previous duties.

Bae will focus on private equity along with the firm’s real asset strategies, which comprise energy, infrastructure and private equity real estate. Most recently, he oversaw the energy and infrastructure platforms. He was also managing partner of KKR Asia.

Nuttall will focus on both private and real estate debt as well as capital markets, capital raising, hedge funds and corporate development. Previously, Nuttall oversaw the global capital and asset management groups, which included credit and hedge funds.

“Today’s announcement is about the future and ensuring we have the right team and leadership structure to serve our clients and partners for decades to come,” Kravis and Roberts said in a statement.

In addition, chief administrative officer Todd Fisher will leave for a career outside of investing and Americas private equity head Alex Navab will retire. KKR just finished raising its $13.9 billion for KKR Americas Fund XII, surpassing the firm’s $12 billion target, according to PEI data. The vehicle will have a focus on add-on acquisitions, Navab told Private Equity International, pfm's sister title, in March.

Bae will also become chairman on the Americas Investment Committee, a post which Navab also held, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Private Equity International identified Scott Nuttall as a potential future leader of the firm in its June 2010 issue. “Scott Nuttall is probably the best horse they have right now… protecting the brand and the integrity of the firm,” an LP source told PEI at the time.

Nuttall’s reputation is one that chimes with Roberts’ philosophy. In a July 2011 profile of Roberts, a source inside the firm told PEI one of the catchphrases the KKR co-founder uses most with colleagues is, “People do business with people they like and trust.”

Roberts said at the time succession planning was something he thought about often.

“That’s part of being a CEO and doing the right things: you’ve got to think about who’s going to replace you and how it’s going to be. And we need to put people in positions, which we have, where they’re actually running businesses in KKR,” he explained.

Earlier this year, KKR had another significant leadership change on the credit side when Erik Falk, formerly global head of private credit, departed after nine years with the firm, as PDI exclusively reported. At the same time, Matthieu Boulanger, formerly of HPS Investments, is joining KKR as a private credit portfolio manager.

KKR is currently raising its third senior debt fund, KKR Lending Partners III, which set a $2 billion target and lists a 1.5 percent management fee on invested capital and a 15 percent incentive fee. Investors include the Minnesota State Board of Investments, which made a $200 million commitment.

On the real estate side, KKR Real Estate Americas II held an interim close on $510 million, putting the firm a quarter of its way to the vehicle’s $2 billion.

Additionally, the firm took public KKR Real Estate Finance, a real estate debt platform, raising $210 million in April.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the names of Henry Kravis and Todd Fisher. They have been corrected.