Recent buyout fundraising: $21.6 billion
Description: Known primarily as a pure private equity firm, KKR has bounced back from some of its 1990s missteps (Regal Cinemas, anyone?) and reduced its dependence on first cousins Henry Kravis and George Roberts, who founded the firm with their Bear Stearns mentor, Jerome Kohlberg, in 1976. The heart of the operation is an investment committee that meets every Monday. KKR dealmakers are divided into 11 industry groups, which focus on 100-day plans; there is also an internal consulting group called Capstone. The firm remains hot, thanks to an annual rate of return of roughly 27 percent and considerable dealmaking muscle.
Boldface advisors: The former group chairman of HSBC Holdings, Sir John Bond, is expected to help with deals in Asia. Ed Artzt, formerly of Procter & Gamble, George Fisher from Motorola, and General Jack Keane, former Army vice chief of staff, review the portfolio companies.
Fun fact: When the Menlo Park, Calif., office gets together for lunch, George Roberts likes to grill people with brainteasers.