It is with great sadness that IMG Worldwide announces the passing of its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Theodore J. (“Ted”) Forstmann. Mr. Forstmann passed away today after a courageous battle against brain cancer.
Mr. Forstmann had been Chairman and CEO of IMG since acquiring the company in 2004. Under his leadership, IMG experienced unprecedented domestic and international growth. Today, IMG is a worldwide leader in the sports, fashion and media industries with a group of best-in-class businesses:
- IMG College is the leader in collegiate marketing, licensing and media rights.
- IMG’s joint ventures -- IMG Reliance, IMX and IMG CCTV -- in the emerging markets of India, Brazil and China, provide significant long-term growth opportunities.
- IMG Events and Federations owns and manages some of the most sought after events and include longstanding associations with the world's leading sports organizations, leagues, and federations.
- IMG Clients has been the global leader in talent representation, including over 1,000 elite athletes, coaches, industry executives and prestigious sports organizations across the sports, entertainment, and media industries.
- IMG Consulting connects many of the world's leading brands with consumers through access to unique sports and entertainment properties.
- IMG Licensing is one of the premier independent licensing companies in the sports, entertainment and media world.
Prior to acquiring IMG, Mr. Forstmann had already achieved legendary status in the financial world as the head of Forstmann Little & Co., a preeminent investment firm he founded in 1978 with his brother Nick Forstmann and close friend Brian Little. Forstmann Little had an unparalleled record of investment performance, generating superior returns for its investors. Under Mr. Forstmann’s leadership, the firm made 31 acquisitions and investments, and ultimately returned more than $15 billion to its investors. Some of Forstmann’s most noteworthy investments include:
- Gulfstream Aerospace – In 1990, Forstmann Little acquired Gulfstream Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of business jets. Mr. Forstmann became Chairman and CEO of Gulfstream when the company began experiencing significant financial difficulties. During his 7-year tenure, he rebuilt the management team, created new product lines, introduced aircraft fractional ownership, and launched a brand new aircraft, the GV. The GV became one of the most successful business jets in the world and won the coveted Collier Award. By the time the firm sold Gulfstream to General Dynamics for $5.6 billion in 1999, Forstmann had successfully spearheaded one of the most dramatic turnarounds in corporate history, creating more than $5 billion in profits for the firm’s investors and public shareholders.
- General Instrument – In 1990, Forstmann Little purchased General Instrument, a conglomerate with innovative cable TV technology. By refocusing and increasing research and development spending, the firm created the world leader in digital TV and broadband technologies. GI’s value increased by more than $5 billion during Forstmann Little’s ownership and was sold to Motorola in 2000.
- Dr Pepper – In 1984, Dr Pepper was the largest LBO to date when Forstmann Little took it private. By divesting underperforming operations and redirecting corporate spending, the firm was able to earn 12x its investment in two years.
- Topps – In 1984, Forstmann Little acquired Topps, the iconic baseball card maker. In six years, the firm produced an extraordinary 70X return on investment by improving management and margins.
Some of Forstmann Little’s other well-known investments include 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Yankee Candle, and Community Health Systems.
While known for his entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, Mr. Forstmann was also a philanthropist in every sense of the word. He was most passionate about children’s causes, but rarely missed an opportunity to dedicate his time or make a financial contribution to other charitable organizations or goodwill groups. Recently, Mr. Forstmann joined some of the wealthiest individuals and families in America as part of The Giving Pledge – a commitment to donate the majority of his wealth during his lifetime to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations closest to him.
In 1998, he co-founded the Children’s Scholarship Fund (“CSF”), the country’s largest charity helping parents send their children to the schools of their choice. CSF offered 40,000 K-12 scholarships -- worth $200 million – to low-income families across America and parents of more than 1.25 million students applied for the four-year scholarships. Today, CSF has provided more than $483 million in scholarships helping more than 123,000 low-income children attend the school of their choice. CSF is heralded not only for changing the lives of thousands of children, but also for spotlighting the huge demand for educational alternatives to the current system.
Furthermore, as a director of the International Rescue Committee, Mr. Forstmann established a medical program for war-injured children. As the only non-African trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, he worked to relieve the plight of South African street children by helping to provide education, shelter and medical care. Domestically, he co-founded two camps for chronically ill children, the Benedict-Forstmann Silver Lining Ranch and the Boggy Creek Gang Camp. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of: Freedom House; Empower America; the Robin Hood Foundation; the CATO Institute; and the Preventative Medicine Research Institute. He was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Forstmann graduated from Yale University and received his law degree from Columbia University. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Pepperdine University and Siena College.
He is survived by his two sons Siya and Everest, and leaves brothers Anthony and John, and sisters Marina Forstmann Day and Elissa Forstmann Moran.
The family invites friends to call at Frank E. Campbell at 1076 Madison Avenue at 81st Street, on Monday, November 21st from 6:00-8:30 pm. and Tuesday, November 22ndfrom 12:00-3:00 p.m. and from 5:00-7:00 p.m.; A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday, November 29th at 10:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Children's Scholarship Fund. (www.scholarshipfund.org).