Josh Harris, one of Apollo Global Management’s three co-founders, is departing the alternative investment firm after Apollo merges with Athene, an insurance company affiliate. The Athene deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
The exit of Harris, who will remain on Apollo’s board and executive committee, marks another big reshuffling of the firm’s high-profile co-founders. Leon Black stepped down in March from his chairman role after giving up the CEO post in January. Black’s departure came after an independent report commissioned by the Apollo board provided new details on Black’s controversial connections to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Black had founded Apollo in 1990, and was joined by Harris and Marc Rowan a few years later. All were veterans of junk bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert. The three took their experience from the investment banking side of Wall Street, where they funded new companies with high-yield debt, to form an asset manager.
As of the end of March, Apollo had $461 billion in assets.
Rowan, the architect behind Apollo’s lucrative insurance strategy, is now CEO. He, along with Jim Zelter, now head of Apollo’s credit arm, and Jim Belardi, head of Athene, began buying annuities from troubled insurance companies in 2009. The move launched them into the business of managing insurance assets and meant that Apollo would have to build a substantial credit business, because the majority of insurance company assets are in corporate bonds. In the subsequent six years, Apollo quietly transformed itself, building a credit business larger than its private equity division and powered by the insurance start-up.
At the time, Apollo had the insurance field to itself, but competitors have moved in since, including Blackstone and other large and small private equity firms. In March, Apollo announced that it would merge with Athene.
“After nearly 31 years at Apollo, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my career, where I will focus full-time on the platforms I’ve created outside of the firm as well as deepen my commitment to philanthropy and social impact,” Harris said in a statement. “I have dedicated the past three decades to helping lead and build this incredible company. I leave knowing that our unrivaled and deeply talented global team is in the most capable hands under Marc’s leadership. I am grateful to Marc for his partnership and friendship.”