Fortress Investment Group CEO Randal Nardone is on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans and says he’s worth about $1 billion. The company manages more than $18 billion in private equity investments for high-net-worth individuals. Randal Nardone, 43, has been in the business for about 18 years. He started his career working as a trader on the New York Stock Exchange floor before moving on to Bankers Trust and then Credit Suisse First Boston. He left CSFB in 1995 and joined BlackRock with Ed Lampert. In 1998 he launched NCS Advisors with Charles Niehaus, a high school friend, and former stockbroker.

NCS purchased Fortress in early 1998 for $600 million before taking the company public one year later. NCS came out well ahead, reaping an estimated 600% return on their investment. In December 2001, after leaving BlackRock with several team members, Randal Nardone refocused NCS on private equity with the purchase of a distressed debt management business from Credit Suisse. The new company was named Fortress Investment Group LLC. In June 2006, Fortress went public (NASDAQ: FIG).

The fortress is one of many investment firms to take advantage of the recent boom in private equity and leveraged buyouts. The recent downturn in the mortgage market has put a chill on such opportunistic investments for the moment. Still, Randal Nardone says that he expects to return to his typical timeline of holding an investment for five years or so. Randal, 44, lives with his wife and two children in Alpine, New Jersey. He is a trustee of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and serves on the board of the Newark Boys Chorus.

Fortress’ recent fundraising efforts have been hampered by unfavorable market conditions and limited investor appetite for deals with little or no profit potential. The firm raised $1 billion last year for its fourth private equity fund but could only attract $500 million from limited partners. It has been forced to scale back its plans for new investments.