Money Talk

Episode 25

Peter Magowan

An interview with Peter Magowan, president and managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants.

Peter’s grandfather, Charles Merrill, founded Merrill Lynch & Co.; Peter’s father, Robert Anderson Magowan, was the former CEO of Safeway Stores, one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America as based on sales and his mother was Doris Merrill Magowan, whose brother, Charles Edward Merrill, was President of Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, and her other brother, James I. Merrill was a Pulitzer prize-winning poet. The marriage of Peter’s parents begot five sons, Peter, Robin, Merrill, Stephen and Mark. His mother’s interests, largely inherited by Peter, included business, philanthropy, the fine arts and associations with stand-out individuals, e.g., Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. He and his spouse, Debbie, are the parents of four daughters and one son: Kim, Hillary, Margo, Kristen and Matthew.

Peter earned a B.S. in American Literature from Stanford University, an M.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He served with the U.S. State Department for two years. Peter began his 37-year career with Safeway as a checker, store manager and real estate negotiator. In 1986, Safeway was the subject of an unsolicited takeover and then a defensive leveraged buy-out orchestrated by Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts and thereafter, another public offering. In 1993, after 13 years as Safeway’s CEO, Peter resigned to become a member of the investment group which purchased the San Francisco Giants from Bob Lurie. After the purchase, Peter became the president and managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants. Willie Mays was Peter’s assistant; Willie McCovey, his senior advisor; Orlando Cepeda, his community representative; and Felipe Alou, his special assistant. Peter retired and resigned as the president and managing general partner effective in 2009.

Peter has served as a director of Caterpillar, Daimler Chrysler, Spring Group PLC, W5 Networks, Inc., Baxter, Cox Communications and Safeway. Among Peter’s many honors are Businessman of the Year awarded by the San Francisco Business Times and the Commonwealth Club Distinguished Citizens Award. Peter’s non-business interests include skiing, gardening, tennis, fishing, reading and poetry; his favorite book of poetry is The Pitch is on the Way: Poems About Baseball and Life as to which he comments that “Anyone who knows and loves baseball will enjoy this remarkable collection of poems.”


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