Dec 20 2011
Levi Strauss & Co. and the San Francisco Bay Area have lost a true friend.
Warren Hellman died Sunday of leukemia.
Warren can best be described as one of a kind. He was a talented financier and passionate about business, bluegrass music, giving back to the community and endurance sports. His direct, self-deprecating demeanor made him equally at home with captains of industry, twenty-year-old hipsters, country music divas, and anyone who shared his enthusiasm for the banjo and marathon running.
Warren spent 23 years as a member of the Levi Strauss & Co. Board of Directors, but he served us in many different capacities. His business association with the company began in 1971 when, in his role at Lehman Brothers in New York, he advised the company’s leadership about taking LS&Co. public. In the ‘80s, as founding partner of the San Francisco investment firm Hellman & Friedman, Warren became one of the chief architects of LS&Co.’s 1985 leveraged buyout, which returned the company to private ownership.
At the time, it was the largest such buyout in corporate history and subsequently referred to in the business press as “one of Wall Street’s most successful deals.” Importantly, it set the stage for more than a decade of profitable growth for the company.
Upon completion of the leveraged buyout, Warren became a founding member of Levi Strauss & Co.’s new Board of Directors.
Warren’s wide-ranging contributions to the company extended well beyond his service on the board and its committees. His sharp insights and candid counsel were seen as invaluable in the development of the company’s long-term strategies.
But, as noted above, he had many talents and passions. His love of music led him to found San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. And it's clear from this festival video of him singing with his band, The Wronglers, he also had a sense of humor.
Posted By: Cory Warren, Editor, LS&Co. Unzipped
Tags: Levi Strauss & Co.
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