Ted Forstmann, the billionaire buyout maverick who orchestrated the acquisition of IMG, one of golf’s most powerful management and media firms, died Sunday from the effects of brain cancer, according to a company statement.
He was 71.
Long a high-profile player in mergers and acquisitions circles, Forstmann ascended into golf’s hierarchy, too, almost overnight in 2005 when he led an investment-group takeover of IMG.
In addition to serving as chairman of the Cleveland-based company – which has dealings in nearly every facet of golf business, from player representation to tournament operations to TV – Forstmann’s visibility increased because of his friendship with PGA Tour players such as Vijay Singh and appearances at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
IMG had become available to Forstmann after the death of agency founder Mark McCormack, the iconic marketer who managed Arnold Palmer’s career and made him a household name.
During Forstmann’s tenure at the helm of IMG, the company became increasingly profit-driven, with aims of an inevitable re-sale to reward investors.
Published reports indicate IMG has continued to grow steadily, but not without change. Its golf division, which at one time generated about 25 percent of IMG’s total revenues, recently parted ways not only with its most famous client – Tiger Woods – but its leader, Mark Steinberg, who also represented the former world No. 1.
Before golf, Theodore J. Forstmann forged his fame as the genius behind the buyouts of Topps, the iconic baseball-card company, and Gulfstream Aerospace, the jet company, among others. He was the chairman and chief executive officer of IMG and was the senior founding partner of the investment firm Forstmann Little & Co., which bought IMG.
Forstmann Little, which was founded in 1978, also completed leveraged buyouts of companies including Yankee Candle, Dr Pepper and Community Health Systems.
Forstmann also was a philanthropist and co-founder of the Children’s Scholarship Fund and had a key focus on helping disadvantaged children throughout the world.