Recent Buyout Fund Raising: $8 billion
Description: Steven Feinberg, another Drexel Burnham Lambert alumnus, founded Cerberus in 1992 and gained a reputation for using distressed debt the way a Sith lord wields a light saber. Even though Cerberus calls itself a "private investment firm" because it goes anywhere for returns, its deals for ANC Rental Corp. (parent of Alamo and National), Mervyns, and Air Canada place it squarely among private-equity heavyweights. The firm (named for Hades' three-headed dog) isn't afraid to snarl at top-tier firms and win, as it did when it stole GMAC and Albertsons from KKR.
Boldface advisors: Former Treasury Secretary John Snow is a chairman, and former Vice President Dan Quayle is the global chairman. Quayle's seat on the board of directors of Nippon Credit Bank (since renamed Aozora Bank) smoothed the way for Cerberus to take control of the Japanese bank.
Fun fact: Feinberg, a former captain of the Princeton tennis team, is an antielitist who works in a barebones office - albeit on Park Avenue - and drives a Chevy pickup truck.