(Bloomberg) -- For years, Apollo Global Management Inc.’s Marc Rowan oversaw the firm’s financial services and insurance businesses. His semi-sabbatical announced Thursday should give him more time to focus elsewhere, not least his thriving Hamptons restaurants.
Rowan, the brains behind Athene Holding Ltd., the insurer that made Leon Black’s investment firm the envy of Wall Street, is taking a break from day-to-day involvement with Apollo. It was a surprise twist at a firm that’s highly profitable despite recent market turmoil.
The 57-year-old has long stood in the shadow of Black, among Wall Street’s most fearsome figures, and Apollo’s other co-founder, Josh Harris. But while Black is known by the wider world for his art collection and Harris leads the group that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, Rowan has quietly pursued his passion for high-end eateries, feeding the elite who flock to the beachside towns east of New York City.
His latest project is a restaurant and marina on the North Fork of Long Island -- Duryea’s Orient Point -- that caters to the yacht-set from the Hamptons and Connecticut with oysters and Champagne. Rowan also owns Duryea’s in surf-friendly Montauk and Lulu Kitchen & Bar in Sag Harbor, as well as property in the area to house staff.
Rowan, who has a $4.9 billion fortune according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, acquired the Long Island properties for about $30 million. He also has a family office that he’s used to amass a much larger collection of real estate assets.
RWN Management is run by Ken Glassman and has participated in $800 million of property deals since it started about a decade ago, according to RCA Analytics. The firm owns condos in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, an office block in Queens and retail space in Miami. It also lends money to property investors. In 2017 its assets were $1.11 billion, according to a filing.
Rowan is one of many private equity titans with a family office. Black’s Elysium Management owns Huddle House, art publisher Phaidon and has invested in co-working business Convene.
Rowan’s interest in property pushed him into an area that Black wished could be a bigger success within Apollo. Black has lamented that his firm struggled to develop a more robust real estate business in the mold of Blackstone Group Inc. and would get frustrated when Rowan and other executives cited a lack of opportunities, according to people familiar with the matter.
Apollo oversees $40 billion in its real estate group, including debt and infrastructure, compared with Blackstone’s $167 billion.
Apollo and Rowan declined to comment.
Rowan will remain on Apollo’s board during his break. The firm’s executives are focused on growing the permanent capital business, which now comprises 60% of assets and includes Athene. Dutch insurer Vivat NV and Jackson National Life Insurance Co. were among recent acquisitions for the unit, which should provide a buffer during market volatility.
For now, at least, Rowan will be somewhat removed from such daily worries.
“He has a well deserved desire to not be involved in so much day-to-day, given the great team that’s been built up and how much that’s already been accomplished,” Black said Thursday.
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