Henry Kravis and George Roberts, quintessential dealmakers who have dominated global private equity for almost half a century, are ceding their leadership roles at KKR & Co. to make way for their handpicked successors.

Henry Kravis and George Roberts

The billionaire founders of KKR elevated Joe Bae, 49, and Scott Nuttall, 48, to co-chief executive officers, effective immediately, the New York-based firm said in a statement. Kravis, 77, and Roberts, 78, will serve as executive co-chairmen of the board. Along with the changes, KKR said it will move to a one-share, one-vote structure within five years.

“We could not be more proud of what we have built to support companies and serve our clients over the last four and a half decades,” Kravis and Roberts said in the statement.

The reorganization marks the final step in a succession plan initiated four years ago. It’s also one of the most significant generational shifts yet for the industry. Over the last several years, the largest private equity firms, including Carlyle Group Inc., have installed a new generation of younger executives to take over from their wealthy founders.

Bae and Nuttall joined KKR in 1996 and were appointed co-presidents and co-chief operating officers in July 2017 — the first move in the plan devised by Kravis and Roberts, cousins who established the firm with Jerry Kohlberg in 1976. (Kohlberg left in 1987 and died in 2015.)

Kravis and Roberts each have an estimated net worth of about $11 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Separately, KKR on announced several structural and corporate governance changes.

KKR will eliminate its controlling preferred stock class, giving all shares equal voting status. The move will “increase the rights of our common stockholders” and further align the interests of management and investors, the company said.