NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Lionel Pincus, founder and chairman of New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus, has died, according to a spokesman for his longtime partner, Princess Firyal of Jordan. He was 78.

Pincus died around midnight Saturday in his Manhattan home after a long illness, the spokesman said.

Pincus founded Warburg Pincus in 1966. Since then the firm has invested more than $29 billion in more than 600 companies.

It holds stakes in a variety of companies including Fidelity National Information Services Inc., which processes financial transactions; Nuance Communications Inc., which makes speech recognition software; educational company Bridgepoint Education Inc., and drug developer Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Before founding Warburg Pincus, he was a partner of Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. He was also a founding director of the National Venture Capital Association and is Chair Emeritus of the Trustees of Columbia University and a member of the Columbia Business School Board of Overseers.

He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and held an M.B.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

Warburg Pincus Co-Presidents Charles R. Kaye and Joseph P. Landy said in a statement Sunday that Lionel Pincus was a committed steward to the firm's success.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of our founder and retired chairman, Lionel Pincus," Kaye and Landy wrote.

"For those of us who knew and had the good fortune to work with Lionel, we witnessed first hand how he helped to create and shape the modern venture capital and private equity industry. His legacy lives on in the values and investment principles of our firm. We will all remember Lionel with great admiration and appreciation."

He is survived by his sons Henry and Matthew as well as Princess Firyal.

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