Obama nominates KKR infra advisor as commerce secretary

John Bryson, former CEO of Edison International and former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, has served as a senior advisor to KKR’s infrastructure team since 2008.

US President Barack Obama has chosen John Bryson, a senior advisor to the infrastructure team of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), to be the next Secretary of Commerce.

Bryson would bring a “wealth of experience in the public and in the private sectors” to the position, Obama said in a press conference earlier this week. 

Obama praised Bryson’s focus on developing alternative energy sources and his dedication to environmental causes. The President highlighted Bryson’s role as co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental action group established 40 years ago that now has 1.3 million members.

“As a young man with a degree in hand from a prestigious law school, John didn't follow his friends to a blue chip law firm,” Obama said. “John took a chance on an idea he cared about.”

Obama said Bryson would be responsible for promoting US businesses abroad and helping to achieve the President’s goal of doubling US exports.

Bryson served as a partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster. He was also president of the California Public Utilities Commission and chief executive of regulated utility operator Edison International, before being appointed a senior advisor to KKR’s infrastructure practice in 2008, according to a statement from KKR.

At the time of Bryson’s appointment, KKR said in a statement that he would bring “over 30 years of experience as both an industry leader and regulator to KKR’s initiative to invest in global infrastructure opportunities”.

KKR disclosed plans to start investing in infrastructure in 2008 and held a second close on $515 million for its Global Infrastructure Investors fund last year.

If his appointment is confirmed by the US Congress, Bryson will replace current Secretary Gary Locke, who will be serving as the US ambassador to China.