Ted Forstmann, a prominent financier who made many of his most high-profile investments in the media sector, died Sunday. He was 71.
The cause of death was brain cancer, according to a spokesman at Forstmann Little. Forstmann announced he was battling the disease earlier this year.
While renowned for his impact on various industries through private equity, Forstmann was a looming figure in the media business over the past three decades, most recently as CEO of International Management Group (IMG), a company he acquired in 2004 in a cash deal valued at more than $700 million in order to bring together the worlds of sports and entertainment. The sports and celebrity management and marketing firm has represented Tiger Woods, Joe Montana and Derek Jeter. Under the IMG banner, Forstmann acquired production companies including Tiger Aspect and Darlow Smithson, which he resold to Endemol in 2009, three years after buying them.
Forstmann even managed to lure former HBO CEO Chris Albrecht into the fold for a brief period beginning in 2007 with the intent of making strategic investments across the media landscape, but Albrecht exited in 2008.
Michael Ovitz recently exited the board at IMG after a struggle for control of the firm. Ovitz was a longtime associate of Forstmann who teamed with him in the 1980s to make a run at record label Polygram, which was eventually sold to Seagram.
Forstmann also made his imprint in the radio business, buying Citadel Communications for $2 billion in 2001. He teamed with Cablevision in 1999 to back Broadway musical “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
Forstmann earned his undergraduate degree from Yale and his law degree from Columbia U. He spent some time as an attorney before establishing Wall Street investment firm Forstmann Little in 1978 with his brother Nicholas and then-partner Brian Little.
Forstmann was also a philanthropist and co-founder in 1998 of the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which focuses on helping parents send their children to schools of their choice.
Earlier this year he signed “the Giving Pledge,” where America’s wealthiest people pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes. Forbes estimated Forstmann’s net worth at $1.8 billion as of September 2011.
Forstmann is survived by two sons; two brothers; and two sisters. A memorial mass is set to be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)