THE DEALMAKER: Over past years, Goldman Sachs has built a reputation as a deal machine with a seat at the table at every major M&A transaction.

Less publicized is Goldman’s muscle in the private equity sector where banker Gerry Cardinale is a partner in the firm’s $20 billion fund, rivaled in size only by giants like KKR, Blackstone, Texas Pacific and Carlyle. Cardinale, a managing director in Goldman’s Principal Investment Area (PIA), is also the go-to guy for media, entertainment and telecom investing. He engineered the 2007 merger of CanWest Global Communications and Alliance Atlantis, where Goldman retains a significant stake. He wrote the business plan for the YES Network, which today is America’s No. 1 regional sports network. Recently he was key in getting Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to re-up with the team.

Goldman is equipped to tackle a range of deals with its large-cap equity fund investing anywhere from $200 million up to $1 billion per deal. Last year, Cardinale also helped create and launch GS Direct, a middle-market fund providing equity of $200 million or less per deal.

“We take an old-school, traditional merchant banking approach where we put our money together to work with our partners, many of whom are good clients of the firm,” Cardinale says.

KEY DEALS: Behind the $3 billion purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications by CanWest Global Communications in 2007. Partner in creating the YES Network. Founded wireless broadband provider Clearwire, which sold to Craig McCaw and represents his largest personal investment to date.

DEALMAKER DOS: “Do your homework and know your industry. Deploying our kind of capital requires us to know as much as the CEOs we’re backing. But do remember, deals aren’t all about the numbers … they can be about judgment of people and management teams.”

DEALMAKER DON’TS: “Don’t ever fall in love with a deal.” 

TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “Guys who invest and rarely lose money. Warren Buffet comes to mind. Guys who consistently, fund after fund, manage to perform.”