Friday, July 27, 2007

Pop Goes the Buyout Bubble

Hear that sound? That was the private-equity bubble finally getting pricked on Thursday, as the market for debt -- the jet fuel that had propelled it to dizzying heights -- slammed shut.The stock market plummeted 311 points as investors erased the takeover premiums that had increasingly propped up share prices for dozens of companies that had been considered buyout targets. The buyout frenzy also helped fuel the large profits made by investment banks and gave companies access to easy money, which was often used to buy back stock.Among the hardest hit stocks was one of the buyout management firms that had managed to go public. Shares of the Fortress Investment Group dropped more than 6 percent, to $19.31. The Blackstone Group fell as much as 8 percent during the day but finished up 19 cents, at $25.70. It went public last month at $31.Some analysts yesterday openly speculated that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts should pull its initial public offering.
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