In the private equity souk last year, Ropes & Gray partner David Chapin, 52, pushed more than $32 billion in chips across the table for clients seeking prizes as varied as the nation’s largest doughnut chain and the billboards that light up Times Square. “Usually if my clients have one successful billion-dollar deal, it’s been a good year. In 2006 we ended up with a whole bunch of them,” says Chapin with equal parts excitement and exhaustion.

  • Dealmakers: Private Equity
  • He earned both. He was at home, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the fourth Sunday night in October in the wake of a successful $4.1 billion bid for communication outsourcing company West Corporation when he took a call from a team of bankers at Thomas H. Lee Partners. He knew them well. Lee and the Quadrangle Group LLC had bought West; Chapin has been the relationship partner with Lee since 2003. This time the bankers were calling to say they were about to enter the race for Clear Channel Communications Inc. They had teamed with Bain Capital LLC and Texas Pacific Group (the latter eventually dropped out). The consortium was prepared to make an 11-figure bid, the deal was hugely complex, and there was another suitor who had been wooing Clear Channel since August. “What David brings to the table is an ability to balance the legal risks along with the business risks [in a transaction],” says Thomas H. Lee managing director Kent Weldon.

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