Apollo enlists ex-SEC chairman Clayton as it begins governance overhaul

FILE PHOTO: Jay Clayton, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks at the Economic Club of New York luncheon in New York City, New York, U.S.,September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) – U.S. private equity firm Apollo has enlisted ex-SEC Chairman Jay Clayton as its lead independent director as part of efforts to tighten governance controls in the wake of an inquiry into Chief Executive Officer Leon Black’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

Black, who founded Apollo Global Management Inc 31 years ago and turned it into one of the world’s largest private equity groups, was cleared of any wrongdoing, but said he would retire by July and only keep his role as chairman.

An independent review conducted by law firm Dechert LLP found Black was not involved in Epstein’s criminal activities. But it concluded Black paid Epstein $158 million for advice on tax and estate planning and related services between 2012 and 2017, according to the review.

Apollo said in January it plans to change its corporate governance structure, doing away with shares with special voting rights that currently give Black and other co-founders effective control of the firm.

The revelations of Black’s ties to Epstein also led the firm’s executives to warn in October that some investors had paused their commitments to Apollo’s funds as they awaited the review’s findings.

The company, however, said in January that despite the controversy, its assets under management grew by $22 billion in the final quarter of 2020 to $455 billion.

Clayton will assume the newly created role on March 1, Apollo said, adding that he was selected due to his professional experience and understanding of private and public capital markets.

Clayton was the SEC chairman from May 2017 to December 2020 and under his leadership the SEC pursued changes to regulations that critics saw as burdensome or hindering corporate growth, often in the face of opposition from Democrats and investor advocates. (reut.rs/3atC6IM)

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