EST. 1983 & 1987
With his historic $985 million leveraged buyout of TLC Beatrice International Foods Cos.—the largest offshore transaction at the time—the late financier created the first Black-owned global enterprise to surpass the billion-dollar revenue mark. He helped Black businesses gain access to financing throughout his business career and became the standard-bearer for African Americans on Wall Street. His first big deal came in 1983 with a $22.5 million leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Company, a home sewing and publishing firm. Lewis streamlined McCall’s financially troubled operations and led two of the most profitable years in its 113-year history. Lewis sold the business in 1987 for $90 million, a 90-to-1 return on his investment.