Discussing the influence of legendary dealmaker Richard Rainwater, with Eddie Lampert, ESL Partners founder and Sears Holdings chairman; David Bonderman, Texas Pacific Group founding partner; and Barry Sternlicht, Starwood Capital Group chairman & CEO.
Updated with COMPUTER generated transcript
thank you. we’re micing up to the world’s most powerful investors. they will join us in a rare television appearance to talk about the influence as we have been the entire show of legendary deal maker richard rainwater, and the influence he had on their high-profile careers. we’re going to be talking to david bonderman, founding father of texas pacific group and eddie lampert, esl partners founder. sears holding chairman and we continue our guest host for the morning. you were partly responsible to corral these two to come in here. we’ve known barry since he had hair. that was a first. i lost it at the age of 2. no that’s not true. the @reason, and i just outlined the great richard rainwater, and we’re talking about this, the list of players that somehow were inspired or discovered by him. it’s phenomenal. can you explain it, eddie? i met richard in nantucket. i went with two other guys from goldman sachs to visit dan stearn and with no expectation dan said richard wants to have lunch with you guys. first time we met bigger than life. bigger than life. filed the room? yeah. he filled the restaurant. but he was very casual and very inspirational. his pitch was there’s life after goldman sachs. he was there for two years. and at the time i was thinking about, you know, what i wanted to do, whether i wanted to leave or whether i wanted to stay. i went to visit him again the next weekend and pretty much spent the whole weekend with him. was it ’88? summer of ’87. for me you had a one hour packing and he sent you packing. he immersed himself in your life. you’re able to immerse yourself in his life. what did you know about him at that point? disney was already legendary at that point? i was at goldman sachs. the bests were already known in the financial co at that time. they weren’t broadly known. they had done the disney deal and were involved with disney. i knew richard’s name but i didn’t know much more about him. so, but when i met him, again, there are certain people you meet in your life and it was one of those moments where you say this guy is something special. disney was buying gibson group. they were going to buy gibson greetings and put mickey mouse on gibson greeting cards. were you there? i arrived just when that was being done. you should explain how you know richard. yeah. it’s a longer story but for these purposes a short version. i was running braniff airlines. i was a lawyer. richard was thinking about buying it because hit new tax laws to carry over which in those days you could use it for unrelated business. you could shelter everything else. in very richard style had this deal teed up where he was going to buy up vf where i was the owner of wrangler jean. it was too complicated for to it happen. richard asked me to come see him. i went over to richard’s office which was with the bass brothers on one of the upper floors of the only tall building in fort worth in those days. i walk in there and get ushered into richard’s office. richard is there. he’s got this big plate glass window in his office and it’s covered with a sheet. you can’t see out. so i said richard what’s going on here. he said let me show you. he peels the sheet back. there’s a view over this construction site down the block where the rest of the bass brhers with their money and some of richard’s are building two new office buildings, later referred to as darth vader at the o.k.corral. and richard said i can’t stand to see my money being put in this. you worked for robert, right? he worked for sid. what happened in that context was that the brothers split the business and richard had been running the business for all four brothers and it wound up with two-on-one side. i wanted to run the business with the other brothers bob and extend one of his other brothers. richard came to me and said hey you’re a lawyer you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. i’ll tell you what, come sit in my office and watch what i do and you’ll learn. just show up any time, spend the day with me, whenever you want, come around. and so you walk in, i walk in, i spent three or four hours tched what richard did. some worked for me some didn’t. richard might be standing on a desk to make a point. you could never tell who you would find in the office. people who came through there, the last time you asked who came through. one of the people richard put into business rick scott the governor of florida. bush who was the president of the united states who richard hired to be effective at the base team. you can’t believe the people who came through fort worth which was the center. fort worth. fort worth. that was the center of the world at the time. nature versus nurture. did you guys already have it or he breathed it into you or is at it combination. you had it and then you learned? i think it’s a combination, for sure. i think that, you know, kids go to kentucky to play basketball, they go to duke, north carolina, they have these great programs so they attract great talent and then talent has to make of itself what it can. but i think barry said something earlier, richard made people believe in themselves more than they actually believed in themselves and i think it was contagious. you got to see and work around people. i was there when the baseball deal was put together. i was there when rick scott started. we started roughly at the same time. sort of out ofng came something. i think that richard — a big something. you felt great investing in westin. sears and other things are things he told you that he imbued you with that you think about today? the thing about disney at the time you have to have a point of view, you have to have a belief and see something other people don’t. a lot of times when you see something that other people don’t there’s nothing there. other times there’s something there. but is it worth it to invest your time and money? i think richard, the thing about natural gas, his view of natural gas and energy was persistent and he did very well. i was there during periods of time where energy and natural