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Retired Gen. David Petraeus Heads To Wall Street

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
May 30, 2013

Retired Gen. David Petraeus is headed to Wall Street where he will join Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a firm that invests globally in everything from real estate to coffee to biotech.

Over nearly four decades in the military, Petraeus traveled the world on diplomatic and intelligence missions. Even then, he says in a video posted Thursday on KKR’s website, he occasionally viewed these trips through an investor’s lens.

“[I] would occasionally wonder: Why aren’t there U.S. investors here?” he says.

Petraeus is a West Point graduate with a doctoral degree in international relations from Princeton. Before joining the CIA, he was commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, which culminated more than 37 years in the Army.

He says he decided to join KKR because the company takes what he calls an “intellectual” approach to business. The company invests in many different industry sectors and in more than 80 companies ranging from U.S. medical-device makers to dairy farms in China and a coffee chain in India.

“I think there are enormous trends that are developing around the world in energy, manufacturing, life sciences and IT revolutions that are having far-reaching effects, and we’re just beginning to see what those effects will be long term,” Petraeus says in the video.

Petraeus will head the newly created KKR Global Institute, a kind of advisory arm for clients. The company says he will also advise KKR itself on international investments, an area where Petraeus has impressive contacts. Speaking in the video, KKR co-founder Henry Kravis tells Petraeus: “By bringing you on to chair the global institute, what it will give us is a real advantage from an investor standpoint.”

In joining a big name Wall Street firm, Petraeus is following a well-worn path tread by many former top government officials.

Petraeus resigned last November as CIA director after an investigation unrelated to him revealed an extramarital affair he had with his biographer. In the months following the disclosure of his affair and his resignation, he had kept out of the public eye, working on helping veterans find employment. Finally, in late March, he broke his silence. Speaking to an audience of veterans at the University of Southern California, he acknowledged he’s still working to rebuild the public’s faith in him.

“I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light than I was a year ago,” he said at the time, apologizing for causing pain to his family and supporters.

Petraeus is perhaps best known for championing a counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that involved winning “hearts and minds.” When he retired from the military three years ago, he had this advice: “We don’t always get to fight the wars for which we’re most prepared, or most inclined.” In other words, the best-laid plans sometimes lead to unexpected places, so one must adapt. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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