After leaving his post as chief financial officer of Viacom Inc. in May, Richard Bressler has resurfaced as a managing partner at private equity giant Thomas H. Lee Partners.
Bressler, who has also served as CFO of Time Warner Inc. in his 25-plus years in the media business, said in an interview last week that he will focus on media opportunities as well as those outside of the entertainment business.
“This is really for me, over the last 25 years taking the operating experience, the financial experience and the strategic experience I’ve had sitting at the top of large complex companies and how do I really apply that best going forward,” Bressler, who will head up the private equity giant’s Strategic Resource Group, said. “If you look at [Thomas H. Lee] they have significant ownership in a lot of large companies. For me it was the perfect fit.”
“I worked with CEOs at their divisions, whether it was at Time Warner [Inc.] or Viacom, and helped their businesses grow on a top line [basis] and help them take some costs out and operate more efficiently,” Bressler continued. “I expect to bring that here to the portfolio companies that T.H. Lee has today and help them find some new investments both inside the media space and outside.”
Bressler wouldn’t say what areas outside of the media space that he would be involved in, but added that Thomas H. Lee has investments in a variety of industries.
“That was one of the appeals for me, to broaden my knowledge base,” Bressler said. “I love this [media] industry, it’s given me everything I have today and I expect to be involved in it forever, but at the same time I won’t be exclusive.”
Bressler said he wouldn’t sever his ties to the media business.
“I hope to use some of the relationships I have and the contacts I have and help identify opportunities out there,” Bressler said. “It could be with my former employers or with people I haven’t met yet.”
Bressler worked at Time Warner Inc. for 13 years — including a four-year stint as CFO and the last three months as head of AOL Time Warner Investment Corp. — before joining Viacom as CFO in 2001. He announced his intention to leave Viacom in early 2005, less than a year after then chief operating officer Mel Karmazin resigned and was replaced by the tandem of Tom Freston and Les Moonves. At the time, Bressler said he would leave to allow the new co-COO’s to select their own senior management team.
Included in the private equity giant’s portfolio are investments in Warner Music Group (on which Bressler sits on the board of directors), book publisher Houghton Mifflin and American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer.
Bressler will be one of 13 senior partners at Thomas H. Lee.