Byron Trott, the longtime adviser to billionaire investors including Warren Buffett, is in discussions to raise a new private equity fund, tapping into the growing demand for such investments from wealthy families.
The former Goldman Sachs banker, who founded the investment management and advisory firm BDT Capital in 2009, is expecting that the new vehicle will eclipse the size of his two previous funds. He has set a target of $9bn, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.
The scale of Mr Trott’s ambition underscores the reputation he has attained after years of working with leading American business dynasties, including the Pritzker family, heirs to the Hyatt hotel fortune, and the descendants of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
The so-called family offices where Mr Trott wields clout and raises much of his capital are garnering increasing power on Wall Street, as they hire investment teams to buy midsized companies outright instead of ploughing money into funds run by outside fund managers.
“Everywhere you look there seems to be a family office with a billion or two of net worth trying to deploy capital into their own deals,” says an executive at one of the world’s biggest buyout funds.
BDT Capital’s own private equity funds are pitched to the same network of family offices and promise access to some of the deal flow that Mr Trott sees as a mergers and acquisitions adviser. BDT declined to comment.
Mr Trott’s 150-strong team has advised on a string of marquee transactions, including JAB Holding’s near-$19bn purchase of Dr Pepper Snapple Group earlier this year.
That transaction built on Mr Trott’s connections with Germany’s Reimann dynasty, who ploughed their family fortune into JAB, creating a portfolio of food brands that also includes Keurig Green Mountain, a maker of coffee capsules, and now sandwich shop Pret A Manger.
A tide of capital has flowed into private equity in recent years, including a record $813bn raised by new investment funds last year, according to data provider Preqin. BDT is among nearly 4,000 investment managers currently raising private equity funds, according to Preqin, but it is among the biggest.
Its fundraising plans — which are still at an early stage — mark a substantial shift in the scale of Mr Trott’s ambitions: if successful, it would equal, in a single instalment, the $9bn BDT has raised over successive capital-raisings since 2009.
People familiar with the discussions said some of the money may be loosely pledged for co-investments in individual deals, rather than committed to the fund at the outset.
Mr Trott’s calling card includes historic endorsements from Mr Buffett, who wrote in his 2007 annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders: “I trust [Mr Trott] completely.”
In an earlier letter, the billionaire investor said that Mr Trott “understands Berkshire far better than any investment banker with whom we have talked and — it hurts me to say this — earns his fee”.