The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Private Equity
Success and Failure in Buyout Land
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Private-equity deals have an image problem. Critics claim that funds load companies up with debt, squeeze all the value out of them, and then sell up and move on, leaving others to pick up the pieces. The industry insists that its success depends on making genuine improvements at the companies it invests in.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Private Equity: Success and Failure in Buyout Land, by Sebastien Canderle, appraises seven high-profile deals, including Blackstone’s purchase of Hilton Hotels, which eventually paid off for Blackstone, the purchase of Toys “R” US in 2005 by a consortium led by KKR and Bain Capital, which ended in bankruptcy and the closure of most of the stores last year, and Philip Green’s acquisition of BHS, which ended in disaster for his reputation and the livelihoods of both staff and pensioners.
The case studies are well-chosen. At times, however, the emphasis on the financial architecture of a deal obscures the wider issue of whether the private-equity owners improved or worsened the firm’s operational performance. Still, those employed in the industry, potential investors intrigued by private-equity funds, and general readers simply wishing to know more about the industry, should all find something that appeals in this book.