Providence put $100 million into the web video project created by News Corp. and NBC Universal.
2008 Rank: 9
2007 Rank: 6
Recent buyout fundraising: $12 billion
Though Providence restricts its shopping list to companies in the flashy world of media and telecom, this buyout firm based in Providence, R.I., is as low key as they come (by masters of the universe standards.) Providence won't be flying under the radar anymore, however, now that it is ready to close the biggest leveraged buyout ever: the $48.5 billion acquisition of BCE, parent of Bell Canada.
The firm has no current plans to become the next supermarket of private equity, à la Blackstone and Carlyle, but it is branching out in its own small way. It put $100 million into Hulu, a web video project created by News Corp. and GE's NBC Universal, and founder Jonathan Nelson is the lead donor for the new $45 million Jonathan M. Nelson Fitness Center at his alma mater, Brown University.
Headwind issue: Banks are getting skittish about loaning money for big buyouts and no one knows this better than Providence. It is working hard to work with its BCE bankers--Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and RBS--as they grow less enchanted with the idea of ponying up $15.5 billion in loans.
Previously it sued Wachovia for trying to back out of a $1 billion financing commitment for a deal to acquire 56 TV stations from Clear Channel Communications.
Worth noting: Nelson may keep a low profile but he likes high adrenaline adventures like helicopter skiing in Greenland.
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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).