F. Ross Johnson, former chief executive of RJR Nabisco, dies at 85

Canadian businessman F. Ross Johnson, the former RJR Nabisco chief executive depicted as the epitome of corporate greed in the bestselling book and movie “Barbarians at the Gate,” has died. He was 85.

The Aycock-Riverside Funeral and Cremation Center in Jupiter, Fla., said Johnson died Thursday.

In 1986 Johnson became CEO of RJR Nabisco, a consumer goods giant making both Oreo cookies and Camel cigarettes.

In October 1988, Johnson and a group of investors proposed taking Atlanta-based RJR Nabisco private, which started a fierce, monthlong bidding war. The private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts eventually won the bidding war, paying nearly $25 billion for RJR Nabisco.

The bidding war, as well as Johnson’s notoriously opulent lifestyle, was later dramatized in the bestselling book “Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco.”



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