Leon Black, the Wall Street billionaire who was the main client of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein for the last decade of his life, is stepping down as chief executive of Apollo Global Management, several months ahead of schedule.
Mr. Black also will give up the chairmanship of the private equity firm, which he helped found roughly three decades ago, according to a statement issued by the firm on Monday. Jay Clayton, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman who recently joined the firm as an independent director, will take over as chairman.
In a statement, Mr. Black, 69, said he had decided to leave now to focus on his family and his and his wife’s health. In January, the firm had said he would step down as chief executive before his 70th birthday in July while retaining the chairman role..
Apollo had previously announced that Marc Rowan, another Apollo co-founder, would succeed Mr. Black as chief executive following the release of a report by an outside law firm that detailed how Mr. Black had paid Mr. Epstein, the registered sex offender who killed himself in August 2019 while facing federal sex trafficking charges, $158 million in fees to Mr. Epstein and lent him nearly $30 million. The review found no wrongdoing by Mr. Black, who planned to remain as chairman.
The New York Times reported that Mr. Black had paid at least $75 million in fees to Mr. Epstein from 2012 to 2017.
Over the past several months, shares of Apollo have underperformed the stocks of other big publicly traded private equity firms.