Although Mr. Black started Apollo with his younger partners — Mr. Harris is 56 and Mr. Rowan 58 — he has been long been the face and voice of the firm.
In building Apollo into a global financial powerhouse, Mr. Black has made himself and his co-founders immensely rich: His personal fortune is estimated at more than $8 billion, and he owns a massive private art collection — including a version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” — and is the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art.
But when Apollo held its most recent earnings call in late October, there were already signs his dealings with Mr. Epstein were causing ripples, both in the firm and among investors. In an unusual move, Mr. Black read a brief statement about the Epstein matter before handing over the meeting to Mr. Harris and Mr. Rowan.
Apollo has long specialized in buying up distressed companies and retooling them, but it also boasts large credit, infrastructure and real estate businesses. Mr. Rowan was the driving force behind Apollo’s thriving insurance business and its insurance subsidiary, Athene Holding, which has fueled the Wall Street’s firm earnings in recent years.
At one time, both Mr. Rowan and Mr. Harris were seen as the heirs apparent to Mr. Black. But with Mr. Rowan’s decision to pull back from day-to-day affairs, many on Wall Street assumed the job would fall to Mr. Harris, who has the run the nuts and bolts of Apollo’s vast buyout operation.
Mr. Harris, who is an owner of the Philadelphia 76rs basketball team and the New Jersey Devils hockey team, said he would “fully support” Mr. Rowan as chief executive. “I will focus on expanding our global search for investor returns, which is at the core of our success,” he said in a statement.
As the only three members of Apollo’s executive committee, the founders hold considerable sway over the company. As of now, the decision to name Mr. Rowan as Mr. Black’s successor does not need approval of the company’s board. And all three men — who have much of their net worth tied up in the company — have a vested interest in the stability of the firm.