Today, for the first time, I am officially notifying the honchos of Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and other big-time private equity funds that I am available. My little company, Saddle Burr Productions, can be had. For a price.
I publish this notice in response to a recent news item revealing that these firms have a unique and perplexing problem: They have too much money on hand. In all, they’re holding a cool trillion dollars that super-rich speculators, banks and others have entrusted to them. Private equity funds are corporate predators that borrow huge sums from these richies, using the cash to buy out targeted corporations, dismantle them and sell off the parts to make a fat profit for the investors and themselves.
However, in these iffy economic times, these flush funds have hesitated to do big takeovers, so they’ve just been sitting on all that money (which the predators refer to as “dry powder”). The problem is that under the rules of this high-stakes casino game, the firms have to spend their borrowed money by a set time — or give it back. And the clock is ticking.
So, using Wall Street’s macho lingo, the big players have announced that they’re now ready to go “elephant hunting” and are prepared to fire big bucks to bag some companies. To which I say: Fire away at Saddle Burr Productions!
OK, my company is hardly an elephant. But maybe it could be what the equity hucksters refer to as a “hot potato.” That’s what they call it when one fund grabs a company just to sell it to another fund, which might pass it off to yet another.
This year, equity firms are expected to spend more than $22 billion this year selling hot potatoes to each other — in part, just to move cash out the door so they don’t have to give it back.
This is what passes for good business sense in the truly screwy world of private equity. It’s just churning money, producing absolutely nothing — except, of course, huge fees for the churners. But if that’s the game, hey, put me in the mix. A billion dollars sounds about right.