Exclusive: Bob Gay leaving Huntsman GayApril 2, 2012: 1:10 PM ET
Robert Gay is stepping down as CEO and managing partner of private equity firm Huntsman Gay Global Capital, Fortune has learned. He will go to work full-time at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he has been called to a position titled First Quorum of the Seventy.
Gay co-founded Huntsman Gay in 2007 alongside Jon Huntsman Sr., founder of chemicals company Huntsman Corp. (HUN) and father of former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. The firm quickly added partners like ex-NFL quarterback Steve Young, and would raise $1.1 billion for a fund focused on mid-market buyouts in a variety of industry sectors. Current portfolio companies include home bedding products provider Hollander Home Fashions, accounts receivable management outsourcer iQor Holdings and refrigerated pizza purveyor MaMa Rosa's.
Gay's departure could present major challenges for the firm, which should be gearing up to raise its second fund. For starters, it will have to explain why its eponymous co-founders are no longer involved on a day-to-day basis. Huntsman was always more of a figurehead than active partner, which is why Gay took the CEO role.
Moreover, Gay has far more private equity experience than anyone else at the firm, having been a partner with Bain Capital for 15 years. He left Bain in 2004 to serve in a volunteer role as his church's mission president for the countries of Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Upon forming Huntsman Gay, both he and Huntsman said that they would donate 100% of their carried interest to philanthropic organizations. Gay also is a major supporter of Mitt Romney, having once cut a campaign ad about how Romney shut down Bain Capital's office so that everyone could help search for Gay's teenage daughter, who had gone missing in New York City (she was later found).
Huntsman Gay has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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