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Hellman & Friedman
Hellman & Friedman
Hellman funded this years $2.4 billion acquisition of Getty Images with 50% of its own money.
2008 Rank: 14
2007 Rank: Not previously ranked
Recent buyout fundraising: $8.4 billion

Hellman & Friedman, based in San Francisco and co-founded by bluegrass nut Warren Hellman in 1984, has not lost a dime on an investment in ten years, and the $3.1 billion sale of DoubleClick to Google in April made it the envy of Silicon Valley dealmakers. Hellman & Friedman's share of that was roughly $2.5 billion; the firm paid $300 million for a controlling stake in 2005. That meant a gain of about $2.2 billion in three years.

Now H&F is modifying its business model and financing acquisitions with less help from banks. Instead it's going directly to lenders and hedge funds and then putting up big equity stakes.

It funded this year's $2.4 billion acquisition of Getty Images with about 50% of its own money while finding some new names for lenders: GE Commercial Finance, Barclays Capital, and RBS Greenwich Capital.

Headwind issue: Getty Images is the biggest distributor of photographs, but it faces tough competition from Microsoft-owned rival Corbis and smaller firms that traffic in celebrity photos taken by amateurs.

Worth noting: The stalls in the company's men's room are named for deals gone bad. (There are three: EasyCall Asia, Mobile Media and shoe company George E. Keith.)

NEXT: Cerberus
Last updated July 28 2008: 4:28 PM ET
Source: Rankings are based on a firm's most recently raised buyout fund(s). Fortune looked at data from Capital IQ, institutional investors, and the companies themselves to determine the size of the most recently raised buyout funds. For some firms that means a fund that was raised in 2007; for others it might be 2006. Whatever the date, the most recent fund was the one we counted. In the case of companies that raise multiple funds simultaneously as opposed to raising a single fund at a time, we chose to count only those private equity funds that were not raised in public markets and that were earmarked for buyouts (as opposed to investments in debt, venture capital, or other ventures).
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