James Christopher Flowers (b. October 27, 1957) is a private equity investor and investment manager focused on the financial services industry. He is the chairman of J. C. Flowers & Co.
Flowers was born in California and grew up in Wayland, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in applied mathematics, Flowers worked at Goldman Sachs for 20 years starting in March 1979, and was a founder of Goldman's lucrative financial institutions merger practice in the late 1980s. Flowers was named partner in 1988, the same year as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain. Flowers retired from Goldman in 1998, one of fifteen members of the bank's executive committee to leave the bank prior to its 1998 initial public offering.
Flowers was the main partner of Ripplewood Holdings CEO Tim Collins in the 2000 acquisition of Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan to form Shinsei Bank. He became a director of Shinsei Bank in March 2000 and continues to hold that position. Shinsei's initial public offering in 2004 net a profit of approximately $1 billion for Flowers, but much of those profits were lost several years later.
In 2001, Flowers founded J.C. Flowers & Co., a private equity advisory and fund management firm which has acquired major equity stakes in Shinsei, NIBC Bank, Hypo Real Estate, HSH Nordbank and other financial institutions.
After an unsuccessful attempt to arrange an acquisition of Sallie Mae in 2007, Flowers became deeply involved in the financial crisis of September 2008. He was approached by Bank of America to advise it on a potential acquisition of Lehman Brothers, and only 14 hours later was approached by AIG to advise it on avoiding an imminent financial collapse. Flowers was well acquainted with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson from their days together at Goldman Sachs, and was among the first to warn Paulson of the impending disasters at Lehman and AIG. Flowers continued to advise Bank of America as it gave up on a Lehman acquisition and went on to acquire Merrill Lynch. Flowers's role in the crisis was portrayed by Michael O'Keefe in the 2011 HBO film Too Big to Fail.
In September 2008, Flowers also purchased the First National Bank of Cainesville, a regional bank in Missouri, renaming it Flowers National Bank.