2008 Rank: 6
2007 Rank: 4
Recent buyout fundraising: $15.2 billion
TPG (formerly Texas Pacific Group) has shifted its focus from doing big LBOs to buying up pieces of battered companies at fire-sale prices. In April, it invested $2 billion in Washington Mutual, which landed TPG co-founder David Bonderman on the bank's board.
It's a familiar scenario for Bonderman. In 1988, during the savings and loan crisis, Bonderman helped his boss, Texas billionaire Robert Bass, recapitalize American Savings Bank with a $150 million investment. WaMu later purchased American Savings from Bass for $1.2 billion in stock, and Bonderman sat on WaMu's board from 1996 to 2002.
Headwind issue: A hedge fund co-owned (but not operated) by TPG had a structured investment vehicle default on its debt last November. Still, the hedge fund, called TPG-Axon Capital Management, made enough winning bets to return 30% for investors in 2007.
Worth noting: Thirty years ago, when Bonderman was still practicing law, he had a hand in rescuing Grand Central Terminal from being demolished. When the case reached the Supreme Court, Bonderman filed an amicus curiae brief on the preservation of historic buildings that helped sway the justices.
NEXT: Advent International
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).