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Cleveland Christophe

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Information about Cleveland Christophe

Profile image of Cleveland Christophe

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Investment Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Light Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue Ribs
Favorite Time of Year:
September, October
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
I Can, I Will, I Must.

Birthplace

Born:
1/1/1946
Birth Location:
Savannah, Georgia

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Investment Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Light Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue Ribs
Favorite Time of Year:
September, October
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
I Can, I Will, I Must.

Birthplace

Born:
1/1/1946
Birth Location:
Savannah
See how Cleveland Christophe is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Venture capitalist and accomplished businessman Cleveland A. Christophe was born on January 1, 1946 in Savannah, Georgia. The son of a college professor and public school teacher, Christophe grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Christophe was studious growing up and received a National Science Foundation summer grant to study at Howard University after his junior year in high school. He went on to attend and graduate from Howard University in 1966 with his B.S. degree in business administration. He subsequently obtained his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan Business School in 1967. He was the only Black among the School’s 800 M.B.A. students.

Christophe began his career with First National City Bank (now Citicorp) in the firm’s prestigious Investment Research Department. Less than two years later, at the age of 22, he became one of First National City Bank’s (FNCB) youngest officers ever. Christophe left FNCB in 1969 to join Kenton Corporation, a retail conglomerate. There, he worked for the company’s chairman and gained his initial experience in acquiring businesses. In 1970, Christophe became chairman and CEO of his own restaurant called Soul Stop located in New York’s Harlem. He and his partners had plans to open multiple restaurant units and expand by franchising. A year later, Christophe decided the restaurant business was not his forte. He and his attorney, Reginald F. Lewis, succeeded in selling Soul Stop to another restaurant chain.

Christophe returned to FNCB in January of 1971, this time as an officer in FNCB Capital Corporation, the Bank’s venture capital subsidiary. In 1974, Christophe was promoted to Vice President of FNCB, having rejoined the Investment Research Department. In 1975, he told the head of FNCB’s International Bank that he wanted to obtain experience in commercial banking including operations, treasury, and credit -- preferably abroad so as to concomitantly gain cross cultural experience. Later that year, he moved to FNCB’s office in Paris, France, where he worked for four years. He was the Bank’s Country Operations Head for France for the latter two years. In 1980, Christophe relocated to FNCB’s (now Citibank) San Francisco office, where he became a credit officer and head of corporate banking for the high technology industries, notably Silicon Valley. In 1983, Christophe again moved abroad, this time to Kingston, Jamaica, as Citibank’s Country Head in charge of all the Bank’s business in Jamaica. In 1985, having succeeded in restructuring Citibank’s Jamaican business during the height of the third world debt crisis, he was awarded a larger and more complex assignment as Country Head for Colombia located in Bogota.

In 1987, Christophe left banking to join his friend and former attorney, Reginald F. Lewis. Several days after joining Lewis’s TLC Group as Senior Vice President, the two partners bid one billion dollars to acquire the Beatrice International Food Company, a transaction successfully consummated later that year.

Christophe left TLC in 1988 to pursue a vision of building his own company. In 1990, he joined Equico Capital Corp. the venture capital subsidiary of Equitable Life Assurance Company. On May 14, 1992, a day Christophe calls Emancipation Day, Christophe and his partners Duane E. Hill, Lawrence C. Morse and Divakar R. Kamath acquired control of Equico and changed the name to TSG Ventures, Inc. A Specialized Small Business Investment Company licensed by the US Small Business Administration, TSG Ventures was among the largest and most successful firms investing in minority controlled businesses. In 1994, Christophe and Hill organized TSG Capital Group and raised a $225 million buyout fund. A subsequent $515 million fund was raised in 1998. TSG Capital Group’s investment strategy focused on underserved ethnic markets (African Americans and Hispanics) and the company's access to ethnic entrepreneurs and managers who represent a largely untapped base of talent. By February of 1999, TSG Capital could invest up to $100 million of equity in single deals with all decision making coming from inside the firm. TSG had become one of the largest minority-run firms in the United States.

Christophe resides in Stamford, Connecticut.

Christophe was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 20, 2006.

See how Cleveland Christophe is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cleveland Christophe's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe describes his mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe describes his maternal grandparents' occupations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe describes his mother's family farm
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe describes his mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his father's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe describes his parents' move to Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Cleveland Christophe remembers his neighborhood in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe describes his paper route
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his mother's social life in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe describes his parents' political philosophies
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his father's friendship with Wiley Branton
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe remembers visiting his father in South Dakota
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe describes segregation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe shares his perspective on integration
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe describes his father's teaching career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe describes his early education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe remembers the Indiana Street School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe recalls transferring to Southeast Junior-Senior High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe remembers his early aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe recalls the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his decision to attend Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe remembers Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe remembers meeting his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Cleveland Christophe recalls developing an interest in economics
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his experiences at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe remembers his summer work experiences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe recalls joining the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe remembers H. Naylor Fitzhugh
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe describes his business education at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his decision to apply to M.B.A. programs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe reflects upon his success as a student and businessman
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his decision to enroll at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his social life at the University of Michigan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe remembers the advice of Wiley Branton
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe explains his decision to pursue investment research
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe recalls being offered a position at J.P. Morgan and Co.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe recalls joining the First National City Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe describes his work at the First National City Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe describes his values
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe remembers working for the Kenton Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe remembers being hired by Soul Stop, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe describes the business model of Soul Stop, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his first attempt at entrepreneurship
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe remembers his leadership of Soul Stop, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe describes lessons he learned at Soul Stop, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe remembers meeting Reginald F. Lewis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe remembers selling Soul Stop, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe recalls being rehired at First National City Corporation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe recalls working in venture capital at the First National City Corporation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe remembers writing 'Competition and Financial Services,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Cleveland Christophe remembers writing 'Competition and Financial Services,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe describes the success of his research
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe remembers being promoted at the First National City Corporation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe describes his mentorship of junior colleagues
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe reflects upon his career at the First National City Corporation, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe reflects upon his career at the First National City Corporation, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe talks about interracial dating
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe recalls working abroad for the First National City Corporation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe remembers moving to San Francisco, California
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe recalls considering leaving the First National City Corporation, pt.1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Cleveland Christophe recalls considering leaving the First National City Corporation, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his leadership of Citibank, N.A. in Jamaica
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe describes his leadership of Citibank, N.A. in Colombia
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his decision to leave Citibank, N.A.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe remembers resigning from Citibank, N.A.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe describes his relationship with Reginald F. Lewis
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe remembers concealing his intent to resign
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe recalls Reginald F. Lewis' business proposition
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his move to Stamford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his business partnership with Reginald F. Lewis
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe describes Reginald F. Lewis' law career
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe recalls Reginald F. Lewis' start in venture capitalism
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe recalls Reginald F. Lewis' acquisition of McCall Pattern Company, Inc.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe describes his partnership with Reginald F. Lewis
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his acquisition of Beatrice Foods TLC, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his acquisition of Beatrice Foods TLC, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe recalls ending his partnership with Reginald F. Lewis, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe recalls ending his partnership with Reginald F. Lewis, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe remembers parting ways with Reginald F. Lewis
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe remembers limiting his contact with Reginald F. Lewis
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe recalls joining the Equico Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his decision to join the Equico Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe recalls his offer to buy the Equico Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe describes his relationships with supervisors
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe remembers acquiring the Equico Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe talks about his loan from the Boston Bank of Commerce
  • Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christopher describes his strategy for acquiring the Equico Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Cleveland Christophe describes the history of the Equico Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Cleveland Christophe talks about the early years of TSG Ventures, Inc.
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Cleveland Christophe lists the initial acquisitions by TSG Ventures Inc.
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Cleveland Christophe describes the life of his investments with TSG Ventures, Inc.
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Cleveland Christophe describes his work with Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Cleveland Christophe describes his involvement with the Waterside School in Stamford, Connecticut
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Cleveland Christophe talks about the Business Council of Fairfield County
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Cleveland Christophe describes his pastimes
  • Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Cleveland Christophe remembers the death of his oldest son
  • Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Cleveland Christophe describes his children