Thomas H. Lee Partners
POWER MOVE: The $14 billion pool of capital he oversees includes an investment in Clear Channel and a commiment to consumers who love music.
THE RUNDOWN:When professional financiers turn their sights on the entertainment business, the interest is typically an ego play. But Scott Sperling possesses not only a passion for the music business but a pedigree dating back more than 30 years, when he promoted campus concerts as a Purdue undergrad and worked with a young band manager named Irving Azoff.
Since then, Sperling has risen to oversee a $14 billion pool of capital at Thomas H. Lee Partners as one of the most respected private equity operators in the business, particularly when it comes to media assets. Until about 18 months ago, he managed the firm’s sizable stake in Warner Music Group, which was sold to Access Industries, doubling the return for his fund’s investors. While THL owns parts of Nielsen and Univision, Sperling’s most direct stake in the music business today is through Clear Channel, the largest U.S. radio group. In 2010, Sperling and THL colleague Rich Bressler brought their friend and media veteran Bob Pittman (No. 12) back into an executive role at Clear Channel, where he now serves as CEO.
“We tend to have a long-term view of the music industry, and how it has evolved,” Sperling says. “But the one thing which has never changed is that consumers around the world love music.”