Ted Forstmann, Wall Street legend and critic and philanthropist, dies

From The Associated Press:

Theodore J. Forstmann, a longtime Wall Street financier who was a major player during the wave of corporate takeovers in the 1980s, including the battle for RJR Nabisco in 1988, died Sunday at the age of 71.

The cause was brain cancer, according to a statement from sports marketing giant IMG, where Forstmann served as chairman and CEO.

A pioneer of the buyout business, celebrity bachelor and free market proselytizer, Forstmann cut the figure of a swashbuckling risk taker. But in buying companies, he tended to be more careful and conservative than did rivals. Famously, he backed down from buying RJR Nabisco in the late 80s when the price got too high. His instincts turned out right. The winner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, struggled for years to wring profits from the company.

In 1988, Forstmann made clear his distaste for deal making greased by junk bonds. The AP quoted him as saying "Today's financial age has become a period of unbridled excess with accepted risk soaring out of proportion to possible reward."

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Every week, with ever-increasing levels of irresponsibility, many billions of dollars in American assets are being saddled with debt that has virtually no chance of being repaid," he said.

Forstmann, who cited Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln as his heroes, was a philanthropist and co-founder of the Children's Scholarship Fund in 1998, which focuses on helping parents send their children to schools of their choice.

He signed "The Giving Pledge" earlier this year, in which America's wealthiest people pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes. Forbes estimated Forstmann's net worth at $1.8 billion as of September 2011.

He was also a director of the International Rescue Committee and helped establish a medical program for war-injured children in Bosnia. He was a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and also served on the board of directors at Freedom House, Empower America, the Robin Hood Foundation, the CATO Institute, and the Preventative Medicine Research Institute.

According to a press release from IMG Worldwide:

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 and 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.

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 p.m. and from 5:00-7:00 p.m.; A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday, November 29th at 10:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Children's Scholarship Fund (scholarshipfund.org.

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