At SuperReturns International 2016 in Berlin, Ken Mehlman spoke with “Bloomberg Markets.” He discussed the 2016 outlook for private equity and KKR’s global vision. He acknowledged that, “there’s a lot of volatility across lots of economies across the world, a lot of industries,” but said that people at KKR look at things optimistically because they see situations like this as being full of opportunity.

In this video, Ken Mehlman attributes KKR’s positive outlook to their patient capital; belief that success is measured over the long-term, not just in quarterly returns; proven ability to add growth and value to the companies they invest in beyond just capital; and ability to invest flexibly. For firms with those qualities, according to this video, now is a good time to invest.

When asked about any surprises or points of focus at the conference, Ken Mehlman responded, “A lot of focus…on the energy space, broadly, and what’s happening there.” In fact, the conference dedicated a full day to Environmental Social Governance (ESG), including a keynote by Al Gore and David Blood. To Mehlman, this is a reflection of where the world is going. Investing successfully today, he says, requires the ability to understand, “where you’re operating, the geopolitical questions, to understand public policy and regulatory issues, and to understand the value that can be created if you can engage effectively with stakeholders.”

Kenneth Mehlman also explains that private equity has the ability to be a solution provider, not a savior, to help build infrastructure, finance retirement, and build better companies. Doing so can generate the returns investors expect, while also helping to solve important societal problems.

For example, according to Mehlman, KKR has invested in three different municipal water systems, modernizing them in a way that is environmentally positive and beneficial to the community. To take advantage of such opportunities, it is necessary to understand the people in those communities.

Finally, Mehlman was asked about regulation. In his opinion, investment should be regulated, so when he meets with government officials or policy makers, it’s less about asking for reduced regulation and more about asking what private equity can do to help and where investment is needed.

The Private Equity Growth and Capital Council, of which Ken Mehlman is the Chairman, recently released a survey which shows that in the last year private equity firms invested some $443 billion in to approximately 2,300 companies in the United States.  Interestingly enough, this is a 27 percent increase from what private equity companies invested in the previous year.

Essentially, as Vice President of research at the PEGCC Bronwyn Bailey explains, private equity firms provide a boost to the economy through their investments, helping to build new factories, create jobs, and generally spur economic growth.  Providing investments that allow regional companies to expand also helps consumers have access to additional products, as well as potentially adding tax revenue to the areas that these companies expand into.

These company investments are often years in the making.  As a piece about the survey explains, it is not uncommon for private equity firms to buy a company to invest in only to sell it nearly a decade in the future.  Many of these companies are also older companies, as private equity investment “differs from venture capital firms” in that they do not tend to invest in start ups or flash in the pan social media companies.

Ken Mehlman was elected the new chairman of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council on December 19, 2013.  Mehlman also serves as a Member at Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts and is a founding member of the PEGCC.

Read the full piece at

On March 20th, Ken Mehlman met with Buyouts at the offices of PEGCC founding member Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, where Mehlman is the global head of public affairs.  The group discussed private equity, Dodd-Frank, and Ken Mehlman’s priorities for his first year as chairman of the PEGCC.

Mehlman’s first statements dealt with his thanks for the work that the PEGCC president and CEO Steve Judge has done to engage policy makers.

“First of all I would say that thanks to the great work of Steve Judge (PEGCC president and CEO) and the team at the PEGCC the industry has done a very good job of engaging in dialog with policy makers about how we encourage more economic growth and also about how we make sure growth is sustainable from a financial system perspective.” He then went on to discuss his hope that the PEGCC can continue to be a part of that dialog as well as part of the solution on how to have better retirement growth and security for Americans throughout the country.

Buyouts also questioned Mehlman on the effort the PEGCC is making to ensure that the public knows that private equity is a force for economic good.  Mehlman explained this effort needs to be a two-way dialog where private equity companies listen as much as they persuade, but that the statistics show that private equity investment has done quite a bit of good for the economy.

“Our hope is to highlight companies that have been enhanced by our investment and by our hard work,” Ken Mehlman said.  “And also to point to millions of retirees who today have more security and enjoy a better time in their golden years because their pension fund decided to participate in private equity.”

Mehlman also mentioned that the PEGCC is watching Dodd-Frank, because “while Dodd-Frank wasn’t aimed at the private equity and growth capital industries there will be very important rules and regulations that impact directly our ability to operate, and to create value.”

To read the the full piece on click here.


Ken Mehlman is the new face of Private Equity Growth Capital Council after he was elected Chairman of the Council’s Board of Directors.

With more than two decades of political and corporate experience, Ken Mehlman will help expand the PEGCC’s outreach and education efforts to engage stakeholders about the value of private equity. Mehlman will succeed Mark Tresnowski, the Managing Director and General Counsel at Madison Dearborn Partners.

“I’m privileged to succeed Mark as Chairman of the PEGCC,” said Ken Mehlman in a statement from Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “I have enormous respect for the PEGCC’s important work engaging with public policy makers to encourage more economic growth and retirement security for millions of Americans.”

Some of Ken Mehlman’s primary responsibilities will include engaging with lawmakers and discussing the positive light on the leveraged buyout industry.

Kenneth Mehlman has been with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts since 2008 where he now serves as Global Head of Public Affairs and oversees all external affairs, policy risk assessments and other opportunities. Mr. Mehlman also serves on the Robin Hood Foundation Veterans Advisory Board, the Council on Foreign Relations and is a trustee at Mt. Sinai Hospital of New York. As a former environmental lawyer, Ken Mehlman also heads KKR’s environmental social governance program, which has helped to curb greenhouse gas emissions and energy use at the firm’s different locations.

Before joining KKR, Ken Mehlman was a central figure in the 2004 election, managing George W. Bush’s presidential re-election campaign, while serving as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He famously came out as gay in 2010 and has since worked with Republican leaders and members of Congress to embrace civil marriage, freedom and liberty for same-sex couples. Ken Mehlman most recently worked with advocates in Maine to retool their advertising, which led to voters approving same-sex marriage in December 2012.

Ken Mehlman is excited for the opportunity to affect positive economic growth and said he shares the PEGCC’s goal of building a community of investors who “seek superior returns while also emphasizing active, responsible governance, long term investment and measuring success in years not quarters.”

Ken Mehlman sat down with Cristina Alesci for Super Return TV in Boston to discuss different aspects of private equity, operational expertise, and General David Petraeus joining KKR.


Cristina Alesci: Let’s start on what you just spoke about on the panel, and this idea that private equity firms are using more and more operational expertise to generate returns and improve businesses. We’ve heard that a lot from other firms as well, what makes KKR different?


Ken Mehlman: Well I think that one of differences we bring to the table is we have 60 in our firm who are operational experts. One gentlemen is an expert at Lean Six Sigma, someone else is an expert in purchasing…and these 60 people go into the company, typically for an 18-24 month period, and focus with that company on the specific area we think that that company can be operationally enhanced…So when we’re looking at a company, we sit down with our investment committee. We say, “What’s our thesis? What do we do to make this company better?” A huge part of that in many cases is, we operated better, we operated in a more affective way, and operated to grow.


Cristina Alesci: Why the focus on operations – why does it seem to be the hot topic?


Ken Mehlman: The private equity industry is first and foremost about solving problems for companies and how we can make them better. Operational focus takes this alignment to the next level.


Cristina Alesci: KKR just announced that it is going to start a formal relationship with General Petraeus.


Ken Mehlman: General Petraeus will lead an effort called the KKR Global Institute, and what that effort will do is build on the work that my colleague Henry McVey and I have tried to do over the last 5 years. Which is to help us understand macroeconomic, geopolitical, governance, environmental, regulatory, external factors that in today’s world are really important to the success of an investment or the failure of an investment, and are really important to helping our companies do even better and be better citizens.


Watch the video here to see Ken Mehlman’s entire interview.     



The past year has seen private equity companies becoming far more public than ever before. With former private equity Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the spotlight, countless remarks, ads, and campaigns were pointed in their direction.

But Ken Mehlman has spent the past year keeping that fire under control. As the Global Head of Public Affairs for KKR, previous head of the RNC, and President G.W. Bush’s campaign manager, he knows how to get a message out to the public.


Private equity firms don’t traditionally like to share any information with the public or the media about operations or any specifics, and that has caused a number of misconceptions to arise. By working with the Private Equity Growth Capital Council (PEGCC), Ken Mehlman has successfully spearheaded the movement to get that information out there.


“Private equity is no longer private,” he says of the recent limelight the industry has been receiving in a piece with Fortune Magazine.


One of the misconceptions he’s working to overcome is that private equity is a heartless firm, when in fact they often pay close attention to what people want and need. “You can’t invest in large businesses around the world today unless you are willing to help provide a thorough understanding of who you really are, and engage around issues that affect things like the environment, workers, and local communities.”


Another thing to remember, Mehlman says, is that private equity provides a nice boost to the economy, taking bigger risks than most companies and therefore seeing a bigger return. By doing so, they are able to turn struggling companies around, rather than letting them fail. They can provide valuable resources and training to portfolio companies as well.


Ken Mehlman has been the leading influencer for getting PEGCC to the successful point it is at today. He provided a vision and helped the movement of taking a traditionally guarded industry and making it visible and transparent to the American public.

Ken Mehlman, who oversees global external affairs for the New York-based private equity firm KKR & Co., was the keynote speaker at an event for institutional investors hosted by Crain’s Detroit Business and Pensions & Investments.

During the event, Mehlman talked about the changing nature of the private equity business, especially in light of the recent election and how Romney explained, or failed to explain, his association with the private equity business.

According to Mehlman, this caused the general American public to generate quite a few negative opinions about private equity.

To read the full piece in MiBiz, and find out more about the nature of private equity click here.