Richard C. Blum (born July 31, 1935) is an American investment banker. He is the husband of United States Senator from California Dianne Feinstein. He is the chairman and president of Blum Capital, an equity investment management firm that acts as general partner for various investment partnerships and provides investment advisory services. Blum also serves in various boards of directors of several companies, including CB Richard Ellis. He is also a regent of the University of California, where until May 2009 he served as the chairman of that board.
Blum founded Blum Capital in 1975 and pioneered the firm’s hybrid Strategic Block/Private Equity investment strategy. Mr. Blum currently serves as Chairman of the board of directors of CB Richard Ellis and is a director on the boards of directors of three other portfolio companies: Fairmont Raffles Holdings International Ltd., Current Media, L.L.C. and Myer Pty Ltd. in Australia. Mr. Blum co-founded Newbridge Capital in the early 1990s and is Co-Chairman of TPG Asia V, L.P. (the successor fund to the Newbridge franchise that has been incorporated into Texas Pacific Group). In the past, Mr. Blum has served on the boards of many prominent companies, including Northwest Airlines Corporation, Glenborough Realty Trust, Inc., Korea First Bank, URS Corporation and National Education Corporation. In addition, Mr. Blum is active in numerous non-profit organizations. He is the founder and Chairman of the American Himalayan Foundation and is Honorary Consul to Mongolia and Nepal. Mr. Blum also serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.
Prior to founding Blum Capital, Blum was with Sutro & Co. for seventeen years, holding various positions including director, major stockholder and member of the executive committee.
On April 25, 2009, Blum was honored with the Berkeley Medal by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau in front of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The talk was sponsored by his American Himalayan Foundation and the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley.
Background and personal life
Coming from San Francisco's public schools, Blum graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his B.S. in business administration in 1958, and an MBA in 1959, both degrees coming from the Haas School of Business. Blum also studied abroad in 1957 at the University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria through IES Abroad.
In the 1970s, Blum supported then Mayor of San Francisco George Moscone. After Moscone's assassination, Blum supported the new mayor Dianne Feinstein; they married in 1980.
Blum joined investment brokerage Sutro & Co. at the age of 23, becoming a partner before age 30. At Sutro Blum led a partnership that acquired Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for $8m, selling it to Mattel four years later for $40m. On the back of this deal Blum started in business for himself in 1975, founding what is now Blum Capital Partners; a stake in URS Corp. was one of its first investments.
Blum's wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has received scrutiny due to her husband's government contracts and extensive business dealings with China and her past votes on trade issues with the country. Blum has denied any wrongdoing, however. Critics have argued that business contracts with the US government awarded to a company (Perini) controlled by Blum may raise a potential conflict-of-interest issue with the voting and policy activities of his wife. URS Corp, which Blum had a substantial stake in, bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002; EG&G subsequently won a $600m defense contract.
In 2009 it was reported that Blum's wife Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to provide $25 billion in taxpayer money to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, a government agency that had recently awarded her husband's real estate firm, CB Richard Ellis, what the Washington Times called "a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms."
The United States Postal Service has entered into an exclusive contract with CB Richard Ellis to sell buildings that currently house post offices.
On March 12, 2002, Blum was appointed by California Governor Gray Davis to a 12-year term as one of the Regents of the University of California, and he was nominated for re-appointment to another 12-year term in 2014. Blum also serves on the boards of the following companies:
- CB Richard Ellis (Chairman)
- Newbridge Capital (co-Chairman)
- Current TV
- Blum Capital
Blum is also the primary owner of Career Education Corporation.
Blum has a strong interest in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. In 1981 he attempted to climb Mount Everest from the Tibetan side with Sir Edmund Hillary. He is the chairman and founder of the apolitical American Himalayan Foundation, or AHF, which has given millions of dollars to build hospitals and schools in Tibet and Nepal but has refrained from political involvement with the Chinese control of Tibet.
In addition to the AHF, Blum’s not-for-profit endeavors include service as Trustee of The Carter Center; former Co-Chairman of The World Conference of Religions for Peace; Member of Governing Council of The Wilderness Society; member of the Board of Trustees of The Brookings Institution; member of the Board of Trustees of the American Cancer Society Foundation; member of the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute; and the founder and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. The Center is focused on finding solutions to address the crisis of extreme poverty and disease in the developing world.