The top 10 dealmakers at publicly traded private equity firms took home at least $1.7 billion in dividends in 2013 as they seized on rallying stock markets to sell stakes in everything from a Chinese insurer to a U.S. theme park operator to a French floormaker.
Among the biggest earners, Leon Black received about $369 million in distributions from his stock ownership in Apollo Global Management LLC, which he founded in 1990, according to calculations by Bloomberg, more than double his 2012 payout. That topped dividends earned last year by KKR & Co.'s Henry Kravis and Carlyle Group LP's three founders, and could exceed those collected by Blackstone Group LP Chairman Stephen Schwarzman, the wealthiest of the buyout titans.
“In the best of times, pay for top private equity executives can't be beat,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “In the worst of times, it's still mighty good because buyout firms have many ways of extracting cash from portfolio companies, whether or not the companies are doing well.”
Top buyout managers, most of whose payouts will be detailed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as this week, get the majority of their income from dividends and distributions on their ownership in the firms, which increase as firms realize profits on their fund holdings. Buyout executives are among the wealthiest Americans, with Mr. Black ranking 48th in the U.S. with a net worth of $9.1 billion and Mr. Schwarzman 39th with an estimated $10.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.