NEW YORK--()--It is with profound sadness and an enormous sense of loss that Forstmann Little & Co. announces the passing today of its leader, Theodore J. (“Ted”) Forstmann. Ted Forstmann was the Senior Founding Partner of the preeminent investment firm and the Chairman and CEO of IMG. Mr. Forstmann was known as a visionary pioneer in the investment industry and a champion of expanding educational and economic opportunities.
“Forstmann Little reflected the qualities of its founder and chairman: reliability, analytical skill and foresight. Teddy was an inspiring colleague and indispensable friend.”
For more than three decades, under his leadership, Forstmann Little compiled an unparalleled record of investment performance generating superior returns for its investors. The firm is widely recognized as a premier investor in part because of his innovations, including a unique subordinated debt fund that enabled the firm to finance acquisitions without issuing junk bonds.
Over the last 33 years, Forstmann Little made 31 acquisitions and significant investments and returned more than $15 billion to his investors.
Some of Forstmann Little’s most noteworthy investments include:
- IMG - Since acquiring IMG in 2004, Mr. Forstmann established a world-class management team and led the company's growth by expanding its global footprint, acquiring new businesses that complement its breadth of services, creating and owning content, and streamlining the organization and its cost structure. He transformed IMG from a company known primarily for its sports businesses to one that is now taking advantage of the strong synergies between sports and media. Mr. Forstmann made major acquisitions in the college sports industry and created two significant joint ventures, IMG Reliance and IMG CCTV in the emerging high growth markets of India and China.
- Gulfstream Aerospace – In 1990, Forstmann Little acquired Gulfstream Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of business jets, for $800 million. When the company began experiencing significant financial difficulties, Mr. Forstmann appointed himself Chairman and CEO. During his seven-year tenure, he rebuilt the management team, created new product lines, introduced aircraft fractional ownership, and launched a brand new aircraft, the GV. The GV became one of the world’s most successful business jets and won the coveted Collier Award. By the time the firm sold Gulfstream to General Dynamics for $5.6 billion in 1999, he had spearheaded one of the most dramatic turnarounds in corporate history, creating more than $5 billion in profits for the firm’s investors and public shareholders.
- General Instrument – In 1990, Forstmann Little purchased General Instrument, a conglomerate with innovative cable TV technology. By refocusing and increasing research and development spending, the firm created the world leader in digital TV and broadband technologies. GI’s value increased by more than $5 billion during Forstmann Little’s ownership and was sold to Motorola in 2000.
- Dr Pepper – In 1984, Dr Pepper was the largest LBO to date when Forstmann Little took it private. By divesting underperforming operations and redirecting corporate spending, the firm was able to earn 12x its investment in two years.
- Topps – In 1984, Forstmann Little acquired Topps, the iconic baseball card maker. In six years, the firm produced an extraordinary 70x return on investment by improving management and margins.
Some of Forstmann Little’s other well-known investments include 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Yankee Candle, Ziff Davis and Community Health Systems.
Mr. Forstmann founded Forstmann Little in 1978 with his brother Nick Forstmann and Brian Little. Years later he looked back at the creation of the firm as follows:
“The entrepreneur, as a creator of the new and a destroyer of the old, is constantly in conflict with convention. He inhabits a world where belief precedes results, and where the best possibilities are usually invisible to others. His world is dominated by denial, rejection, difficulty, and doubt. And although as an innovator, he is unceasingly imitated when successful, he always remains an outsider to the ‘establishment’. He is usually found disturbing and irritating, even unemployable. This is what led me, my brother Nick, and Brian Little to found Forstmann Little. It was a dream come true for us; and became an experience far more productive and rewarding than anything we could have ever imagined.”
Three former U.S. Secretaries of State who served on the Forstmann Little Advisory Board for many years praised Mr. Forstmann as follows:
Dr. Henry Kissinger: “Forstmann Little reflected the qualities of its founder and chairman: reliability, analytical skill and foresight. Teddy was an inspiring colleague and indispensable friend.”
George Shultz: “Under his leadership, the board had constructive and penetrating discussions but we also had fun. Now, every time I step on any kind of plane, I think of Teddy and his magnificent accomplishments.”
Colin Powell: “Teddy introduced me to the world of business and I will always be grateful to him for extending his hand to me, embracing me and making me his friend and business associate. My story is not that different from so many other people who were touched by the Teddy magic.”
Along with being recognized as a prominent and successful business leader, Mr. Forstmann was long committed to numerous philanthropic causes, particularly those helping children. In 1998, he co-founded the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF), the country's largest charity helping parents send their children to the schools of their choice. CSF offered 40,000 K-12 scholarships worth $200 million to low-income families across America --- parents of more than 1.25 million students applied for the four-year scholarships. Today, CSF has provided more than $483 million in scholarships helping more than 123,000 low-income children attend the school of their choice. CSF is heralded not only for changing the lives of thousands of children, but also for spotlighting the huge demand for educational alternatives to the current system.
Mr. Forstmann worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children both in the United States and abroad. As a director of the International Rescue Committee, he established a medical program for war-injured children in Bosnia. As the only non-African trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, he worked to relieve the plight of South African street children by providing education, shelter and medical care. In the U.S., he co-founded two camps for chronically ill children: the Benedict-Forstmann Silver Lining Ranch and the Boggy Creek Gang Camp. To raise funds for children’s charities, he and two of his brothers established the largest Pro-Am charitable tennis tournament, the Huggy Bear Invitational. This premier event raised more than $20 million over the course of its 25-year existence for more than 30 children’s charities.
Over the years, Mr. Forstmann served on the Board of Directors of the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, Freedom House, the International Rescue Committee, Empower America, the Robin Hood Foundation, the CATO Institute, the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Forstmann recently signed on to the “The Giving Pledge” and released this statement:
“For many years I’ve been quietly doing my own version of The Giving Pledge trying to help disadvantaged children around the world. I’ve always believed that you don’t really talk about giving; you just do it. I’ve tried to live by the motto ‘you save one life and you save the world.’ ”
Our heartfelt condolences to his two sons Siya and Everest, brothers Anthony and John, and sisters Marina Forstmann Day and Elissa Forstmann Moran.
The family invites friends to call at Frank E. Campbell at 1076 Madison Avenue at 81st Street, on Monday, November 21st from 6:00-8:30 PM and Tuesday, November 22nd from 12:00-3:00 PM and from 5:00-7:00 PM; A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday, November 29th at 10:00 AM.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Children's Scholarship Fund (www.scholarshipfund.org).