John D. Dionne - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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John D. Dionne

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration


John D. Dionne is a Senior Advisor to Blackstone and a Senior Lecturer of Business Administration in the Finance Unit at the Harvard Business School. He currently teaches "Private Equity Projects and Ecosystems," a highly popular elective course that partners students with leading private equity firms on value-added projects,  as well as an eleven-session lecture series on the Private Equity ecosystems. Mr. Dionne has also taught in the "Venture Capital and Private Equity" course as well as in the Executive Education program.

Mr. Dionne serves on the board of directors of Caesars Entertainment, Momentive Performance Holdings, Cengage Learning and additional privately-held companies.

Until he retired from his position as a Senior Managing Director of Blackstone in 2013, John was most recently its Global Head of the Private Equity Business Development and Investor Relations Groups, and also served as a member of its Global Private Equity Investment and Valuation Committees. During his tenure in this position, Mr. Dionne led global fundraising efforts of over $25 billion for three new private equity investment vehicles in the period immediately following the financial crisis.

Mr. Dionne originally joined Blackstone in 2004 as the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of the Blackstone Distressed Securities Fund, the firm's initial entry into the single-manager hedge fund business, with peak assets under management of over $2 billion. During this period, he also served on the Investment Committees of Blackstone’s GSO and Kalix investment businesses.

Before joining Blackstone, Mr. Dionne was for several years a Partner and Portfolio Manager for Bennett Restructuring Funds, a multi-billion dollar hedge fund specializing in financially troubled companies, during which time he also served on several official and ad-hoc creditor committees.

Previously, Mr. Dionne was a Partner at Saugatuck Capital where he invested in middle-market buyouts and restructured troubled portfolio companies. From 1991 through 1996, he was Director of Corporate Development for a predecessor of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. John began his career at Price Waterhouse as a public accountant.

Mr. Dionne has served on the board of directors of many companies and not-for-profit institutions. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst and Certified Public Accountant (inactive).

John received academic honors while earning an MBA from the Harvard Business School and was a magna cum laude graduate from the University of Scranton, where he is a past Chair of its Board of Trustees.

Cases and Teaching Materials
  1. Centerbridge Partners and Great Wolf Resorts: Buying from a Highly Regarded Competitor

    Josh Lerner, John D. Dionne and Amram Migdal

    Teaching Note for HBS Nos. 818-023 and 818-024.

    Keywords: private equity financing; commercial mortgage backed securities; CMBS; secondary buyouts; sbo; Business Exit or Shutdown; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Lerner, Josh, John D. Dionne, and Amram Migdal. "Centerbridge Partners and Great Wolf Resorts: Buying from a Highly Regarded Competitor." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 818-069, December 2017.  View Details
  2. Centerbridge Partners and Great Wolf Resorts (B)

    Josh Lerner, John D. Dionne and Amram Migdal

    The case examines the aftermath of the March 2015 Centerbridge Partners acquisition of Great Wolf Resorts, a North American family-oriented indoor water parks and hotel operator, from a private equity (PE) competitor, Apollo Global Management.

    Keywords: private equity financing; commercial mortgage backed securities; CMBS; secondary buyouts; Business Ventures; Acquisition; Leveraged Buyouts; Business Exit or Shutdown; Finance; Borrowing and Debt; Cost; Cost of Capital; Equity; Private Equity; Financial Instruments; Debt Securities; Accommodations Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; Financial Services Industry; North and Central America; United States;

    Citation:

    Lerner, Josh, John D. Dionne, and Amram Migdal. "Centerbridge Partners and Great Wolf Resorts (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 818-024, July 2017.  View Details
  3. Centerbridge Partners and Great Wolf Resorts: Buying from a Highly Regarded Competitor

    Josh Lerner, John D. Dionne and Amram Migdal

    The case examines the March 2015 Centerbridge Partners investment decision regarding whether to acquire Great Wolf Resorts, a North American family-oriented indoor water parks and hotel operator, from a private equity (PE) competitor, Apollo Global Management. The case allows for discussion of strategic and financing considerations by Centerbridge, a New York–based investment firm employing a flexible approach across investment disciplines: private equity (PE); credit, distressed strategies, and special situations; and real estate. Students are presented the opportunity to perform valuation analysis and compare two possible forms of financing for the potential acquisition: 1) traditional corporate debt and bond financing and 2) commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) financing. Strategically, the case poses the following questions: Was Centerbridge valuing Great Wolf correctly? Would CMBS be the optimal financing structure, and why had no other firm contemplated this type of financing? Would the company, in partnership with Centerbridge, be able to execute on operational improvements and growth strategy? Was the purchase price multiple of 9.4x warranted in light of the opportunity set? Would an established PE firm like Apollo ever leave enough on the table for a successor private-equity owner to generate gains without necessary multiple expansion?

    Keywords: private equity financing; commercial mortgage backed securities; CMBS; secondary buyouts; Business Ventures; Acquisition; Finance; Borrowing and Debt; Cost; Cost of Capital; Equity; Private Equity; Financial Instruments; Debt Securities; Accommodations Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; Financial Services Industry; North and Central America; United States;

    Citation:

    Lerner, Josh, John D. Dionne, and Amram Migdal. "Centerbridge Partners and Great Wolf Resorts: Buying from a Highly Regarded Competitor." Harvard Business School Case 818-023, July 2017.  View Details
  4. Blackstone's Julia Kahr at the Summit

    Paul A. Gompers, John D. Dionne and Amram Migdal

    In 2009, Blackstone, the New York-based alternative asset and financial services firm, committed to invest up to $750 million into Summit Materials, a new company in the aggregates sector (i.e., construction materials, such as crushed stone, sand, gravel, cement, asphalt, and ready-mix concrete). Summit intended to execute a roll-up strategy by consolidating smaller companies acquired at relatively low multiples into an integrated company that would trade at a higher exit multiple and have a greater total enterprise value (TEV) than the sum of the acquired parts.
    The case study is set in 2012, when, after deploying $483 million of capital toward acquisitions, Summit was not performing as well as forecast. Blackstone’s investment committee gave Blackstone then-Managing Director Julia Kahr, along with Summit CEO Tom Hill and the deal team, one month to report back with a recommendation for the investment’s future. In the case, Kahr is faced with the decision to recommend to: 1) continue the roll-up strategy, funding additional Summit acquisitions; 2) pause the roll-up strategy in order to invest in operations, upgrade the management team, improve due diligence and underwriting processes, and enhance finance and IT systems while waiting for the market to pick up; or 3) exit the investment.

    Keywords: Roll Up; Private Equity Roll Up; Aggregates; Aggregates Materials; Construction Materials; Business Ventures; Acquisition; Leveraged Buyouts; Business Growth and Maturation; Engineering; Construction; Finance; Capital; Equity; Private Equity; Financial Instruments; Investment; Housing; Management; Goals and Objectives; Growth and Development Strategy; Growth Management; Personal Development and Career; Management Teams; Planning; Problems and Challenges; Value; Valuation; Value Creation; Construction Industry; Financial Services Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Gompers, Paul A., John D. Dionne, and Amram Migdal. "Blackstone's Julia Kahr at the Summit." Harvard Business School Case 218-002, September 2017.  View Details
  5. GE Capital After the Crisis

    John C. Coates, John D. Dionne and David S. Scharfstein

    Keith Sherin, CEO of GE Capital, faced a decision on which hinged billions of dollars and the fate of one of America’s most storied companies. On his desk sat two secret analyses: Project Beacon, a proposal to spin off most of GE Capital to GE shareholders, and Project Hubble, a proposal to sell off GE Capital in parts. A third document sketched out the implications should GE “stay the course” on its present strategy: a continued, massive build-up of regulatory and compliance personnel to meet GE Capital’s obligations as a “SIFI”—systemically important financial institution—in the wake of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. No path forward was clear. A divestiture, either through a spin-off or sell-off, would reduce GE’s size and financial connectedness and address market unease about GE’s position as the seventh-largest U.S. financial institution. It would also unlock substantial value not currently reflected in the stock. Each faced major obstacles and execution risks, however. In particular, no one knew the precise cut-off for a SIFI designation or the time required to shed the designation. If the process took too long, or generated unexpected costs, a divestiture might destroy more value than it would create. Retaining GE Capital was risky, too, of course. Which set of risks was the right one to propose that the GE board accept?

    Keywords: Risk and Uncertainty; Decision Choices and Conditions; Financial Institutions; Strategy;

    Citation:

    Coates, John C., John D. Dionne, and David S. Scharfstein. "GE Capital After the Crisis." Harvard Business School Case 217-071, April 2017. (Revised May 2017.)  View Details
  6. Texas Teachers and the New Texas Way

    Matthew Rhodes-Kropf, Luis M. Viceira, John D. Dionne and Nathaniel Burbank

    In 2011 Britt Harris, the Chief Investment Officer for the $107.4 billion Teachers Retirement System of Texas (TRS), was considering whether to pursue strategic partnerships with a group of large private equity firms. After spending four years aggressively moving the fifth largest pension fund in the United States into alternative asset classes, Harris felt that TRS shouldn't just participate in private equity funds as a typical limited partner. Rather, under his proposal TRS would offer carefully vetted firms multi-billion dollar investments through a customized fund structure that had fewer allocation mandates than traditional fund structures, and guarantees to reinvest 50% of any investment gains back into the investment vehicle. In exchange, Harris hoped to receive a highly customized compensation structure and gain greater access to investment professionals within the participating firms.

    Keywords: Texas; TRS; Texas Teachers; Private Equity; Texas;

    Citation:

    Rhodes-Kropf, Matthew, Luis M. Viceira, John D. Dionne, and Nathaniel Burbank. "Texas Teachers and the New Texas Way." Harvard Business School Case 214-091, April 2014. (Revised October 2015.)  View Details
  7. Eastman Kodak Company: Restructuring a Melting Ice Cube

    Stuart C. Gilson, John D. Dionne and Sarah L. Abbott

    In May 2013, senior managers of GSO Capital Partners, an $80 billion credit-oriented investment firm owned by The Blackstone Group, are considering what to do next with their investment in the senior secured debt of Eastman Kodak Company. Once a great company and an icon of American business, Kodak had fallen on desperately hard economic times as its traditional business of manufacturing cameras and photographic film had all but disappeared with the rise of digital photography, causing its annual revenues to plummet from $13 billion to $6 billion, and its stock price to fall by 95%, between 2003 and 2011. Having taken various positions in Kodak's debt during the previous four years, GSO is now faced with a major decision. Under the company's recently proposed plan of reorganization, secured creditors were to be given 85% of the company's common stock, but unsecured creditors objected to the plan. Now, six months later, GSO has brought an amended plan to the table, under which it would commit to backstop a $406 million equity rights offering that would be made directly to all the unsecured creditors. This offer might bring the objecting creditors on board, but could also require an additional large capital commitment by GSO, which was already heavily invested in a highly troubled business that many viewed as a "melting ice cube."

    Keywords: Restructuring; Financial Strategy; Investment; United States;

    Citation:

    Gilson, Stuart C., John D. Dionne, and Sarah L. Abbott. "Eastman Kodak Company: Restructuring a Melting Ice Cube." Harvard Business School Spreadsheet Supplement 216-707, April 2016. (Revised February 2017.)  View Details
  8. Blackstone at Age 30

    Josh Lerner, John D. Dionne and Amram Migdal

    Since its IPO in 2007 and following the global financial crisis, Blackstone largely outpaced its alternative investment firm peers in assets under management, new business launches, profitability, and market capitalization. Under the leadership of Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO, and president and COO Hamilton ("Tony") James, Blackstone's growth derived from substantial horizontal expansion into new alternative asset products and services, both organically and through acquisition. These included businesses in private equity, real estate, funds of hedge funds, alternative credit, opportunistic transactions ("Tactical Opportunities"), and secondaries investments. The firm has also innovated in sourcing capital from a variety of limited partners. Blackstone's culture of centralized investment processes and risk management coupled with entrepreneurial leadership contributed to its growth in important ways, but the firm faces important external and internal challenges as it seeks to continue its growth.

    Keywords: Business Growth and Maturation; Private Equity; Financial Services Industry; New York (city, NY);

    Citation:

    Lerner, Josh, John D. Dionne, and Amram Migdal. "Blackstone at Age 30." Harvard Business School Case 816-013, January 2016. (Revised August 2018.)  View Details
  9. Eastman Kodak Company: Restructuring a Melting Ice Cube

    Stuart C. Gilson, John D. Dionne and Sarah L. Abbott

    In May 2013, senior managers of GSO Capital Partners, an $80 billion credit-oriented investment firm owned by The Blackstone Group, are considering what to do next with their investment in the senior secured debt of Eastman Kodak Company. Once a great company and an icon of American business, Kodak had fallen on desperately hard economic times as its traditional business of manufacturing cameras and photographic film had all but disappeared with the rise of digital photography, causing its annual revenues to plummet from $13 billion to $6 billion, and its stock price to fall by 95%, between 2003 and 2011. Having taken various positions in Kodak's debt during the previous four years, GSO is now faced with a major decision. Under the company's recently proposed plan of reorganization, secured creditors were to be given 85% of the company's common stock, but unsecured creditors objected to the plan. Now, six months later, GSO has brought an amended plan to the table under which it would commit to backstop a $406 million equity rights offering that would be made directly to all the unsecured creditors. This offer might bring the objecting creditors on board but could also require an additional large capital commitment by GSO, which was already heavily invested in a highly troubled business that many viewed as a "melting ice cube."

    Keywords: Restructuring; Finance; Strategy; Investment; United States;

    Citation:

    Gilson, Stuart C., John D. Dionne, and Sarah L. Abbott. "Eastman Kodak Company: Restructuring a Melting Ice Cube." Harvard Business School Case 216-006, August 2015. (Revised February 2017.)  View Details