Levi Strauss & Co., the 166-year-old bluejeans maker, went public on Thursday and closed its debut week with an $ 8.6 billion market cap. It’s the first time the company has traded publicly since 1985, when a San Francisco-based financier named Warren Hellman helped lead a $ 1.6 billion buyout.
Hellman & Friedman, a year earlier, following over a decade on Wall Street and early venture capital. But until his death in 2011 from complications related to leukemia, Hellman became a Bay Area giant as an investor, philanthropist and general hometown hero.
He donated money to the ballet, a local health clinic, journalism and personally funded a $ 400,000 campaign for a museum’s underground parking garage. He also started and financed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, an annual multi-day festival in Golden Gate Park that’s free for attendees and attracts hundreds of thousands of fans to see artists such as Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle.
But it all started with Levi’s, which his firm took private along with the Haas family, who were the principal owners of the business as descendants of Levi Strauss.