Private equity manager Rauner retires from GTCR

Bruce Rauner
Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner is making his retirement as chairman of GTCR LLC official Friday, although he has not been active in day-to-day operations at the Chicago private equity firm for years.

GTCR announced in a news release that Mr. Rauner has retired “to devote more of his time to civic and philanthropic interests,” completing a “transition plan” developed by him and the firm. Mr. Rauner couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

The title of chairman will retire along with him, at least for now. The firm continues to be led, as it has been in recent years, by partners Philip Canfield, Collin Roche and David Donnini, Mr. Canfield said in an interview.

“Bruce has been on a decade-long transition and really, over the last five or six years, he's pretty focused on outside activities,” said Mr. Canfield, a managing director at the firm.

Mr. Rauner, 56, who has been reportedly interested in a possible run for Illinois governor, was becoming involved in so many civic, political and other activities that required GTCR approval under a conflicts-of-interest policy put in place several years ago that he decided it was simpler to just fully retire now, Mr. Canfield said.

Political contributions, particularly those below the federal level, and other investments also sometimes needed approval under the policy, Mr. Canfield said. Mr. Rauner would have to go through the compliance department to get permission for those contributions and activities, and he didn't want to have to keep that up or be restricted.

“It just made more sense for him not to be bound by those restrictions,” Mr. Canfield said.

GTCR, which invests on behalf of its limited partners in privately held companies, receives some investments from public pension funds, including the Illinois State Board of Investment.

“No one can make a political contribution to a candidate that would have, or have the appearance of having, any influence, any say, any remote outcomes around public pension funds,” Mr. Canfield said.

Mr. Rauner, who is the last remaining name partner at GTCR, has been with the firm since 1981, one year after its founding. While he's not been active directly in firm transactions in recent years, he has continued to refer clients to the firm, Mr. Canfield said. That's likely to continue to some extent on an informal basis because of the close ties Mr. Rauner still has to partners at the firm, he said.

GTCR has no plans to update the firm's name in light of Mr. Rauner's exit.

“We wouldn't change that. There's a lot of equity built up in that brand and it means a lot to a lot of people,” Mr. Canfield said.

Lynne Marek is a writer for Crain's Chicago Business, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments.