George Roberts was born in 1944 in Houston, Texas. He attended Claremont McKenna College and graduated in 1966. He then went on to the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and graduated in 1969.
Roberts went to work for Bear Sterns in New York City alongside his cousin Henry Kravis. While working under the supervision of Jerome Kohlberg in the corporate finance department, the three began to execute a new kind of deal which they called “bootstrap” investments. During the late 60s and early to mid-70s Roberts, Kravis and Kohlberg completed a series of leveraged buyouts including Stern Metals in 1965, Incom in 1971, Cobblers Industries in 1971, and Boren Clay in 1973.
By 1976 Bear Sterns was pressuring the threesome to reduce the amount of time spent on outside activities, while Roberts, Kravis and Kohlberg were pushing to form a dedicated investment fund within Bear Sterns. As a result of the disagreement the three left Bear Sterns and formed Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company.
Roberts’s net worth is estimated to be about $5.5 billion, much of that money coming from his position at KKR. In 1989 Roberts and Kravis led one of the most famous of all leveraged buyouts when they took over the RJR Nabisco Company.