Byron Trott Of BDT Capital Partners Taps His Power Network To Help The Rich Get Richer

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By John Lippert, Jeffrey McCracken and David de Jong  Washington Post

Buffett ties

Warren Buffett, the world’s third-wealthiest person, is the biggest name on Trott’s prestigious list. The legendary 83-year-old investor has built his Berkshire Hathaway into the world’s fifth-most-valuable company. For at least a dozen years, Trott has been at the center of some of Buffett’s leading deals.

The Buffett-Trott relationship blossomed while Byron Trott was at Goldman. In 2002, Henry Paulson, then Goldman’s CEO, was reorganizing the bank’s outreach to rich clients and tapped Trott as emissary to Buffett.

The billionaire soon praised the banker for helping Berkshire buy kitchenware, grocery and children’s-clothing companies.

“He understands Berkshire far better than any investment banker with whom we have talked and — it hurts me to say this — earns his fees,” Buffett wrote in his shareholder letter for 2003.

Trott helped enlist Buffett in 2008 in the effort to extract Goldman from a potentially fatal crisis. As markets cratered that fall, Goldman wanted to shore up its balance sheet by selling as much as $10 billion in new shares. Byron Trott advised superiors that the fundraising would be a mistake without a name like Buffett.

“They gave me the latitude to negotiate any deal that I could,” Trott testified in the 2012 insider-trading trial of former Goldman director Rajat Gupta. Prosecutors subpoenaed Trott to describe the top-secret talks; he was never accused of wrongdoing.

Buffett drove a hard bargain — $500 million in annual interest on an investment worth $5 billion. Gupta was convicted of leaking word of the deal and began a two-year jail sentence in June.

Byron Trott has played a role in deals involving at least 10 of the 30 wealthiest people in the world — including Charles and David Koch and heirs to the family fortunes of Mars Inc. and Wal-Mart. Their collective net worth was about $380 billion in early August.

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