Penny Pritzker has launched a private equity firm in Chicago, but capital-starved banks might want to hold off on trying to get face time with the billionaire.
The Chicago Tribune reported last week that Pritzker, whose family founded the Hyatt hotel chain and once owned a Chicago-area thrift, has formed PSP Capital Partners, citing an unnamed source. It is unclear which industries the fund will invest in, but one observer said he would expect Pritzker to steer clear of banking.
"I've had my dealing with the Pritzkers over the years and every single time I've brought them a bank [to invest in] they've said they are just not interested," said Michael Iannaccone, president of MDI Investments, a Chicago firm that helps pair banks with investors. "My gut would tell me no."
Iannaccone said Pritzker could be turned off by "all the regulation" that comes along with banking. It could also be that she is skittish about investing in banks after her last go-round in the banking industry. Pritzker was a director at the $2.3 billion-asset Superior Bank when the Hinsdale, Ill., thrift co-owned by her family failed in 2001. At the time, regulators cited an over-reliance on hard-to-value residual interests for shutting the thrift down. The thrift and the family later agreed to pay $460 million to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for the hit the failure caused the Deposit Insurance Fund.
Aside from Hyatt, the Pritzker family also founded the Marmon Group, a manufacturing conglomerate. Penny Pritzker is also the co-founder and chairman of Artemis Real Estate Partners; the chairman and chief executive of Pritzker Realty Group; and chairman of TransUnion.
A key supporter of President Obama's, Prizker serves on the president's Council for Jobs and Competitiveness and previously served on the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, according to her personal website. She also is a former director at LaSalle Bank.