Monday, December 31, 2012

Redskins Snyder Beneficiary of Richmond Taxpayer Funds

The Washington Redskins, valued at $1.6 billion, will conduct their summer training camp in Richmond, Virginia in a $10 million facility funded by taxpayers.  The Richmond Times Dispatch showed the extent to which billionaire Dan Snyder will be burdened by Redskins training:

The team is not contributing to the cost of the camp.

The city is ready to break ground on the new facility.  Billionaire Dan Snyder gets a free training camp for eight years.  That's a PEU worthy deal.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yes, Virginia is Santa Claus

Virginia Governor Bob McDonald will finance 83% of a $1.4 billion to build a new U.S. 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg. The remaining 17% will have the benefit of a tax free bond designation

The state will contribute $903 million, the Virginia Port Authority $250 million and the rest will be tax exempt bonds from the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia.  Earlier financing reports mentioned possible federal loan funding for the project. 

Private companies behind the deal include Ferrovial Agroman, S.A. and American Infrastructure. 

Private equity underwriters wanted in on the deal, but their expected 20% annual returns made the project too expensive

State officials ditched plans to use private equity when it became apparent that such a financing model would produce tolls that were twice as high or higher than the current rates, Layne said.

“If we did attract equity, it was going to be very expensive,” he said.

Rather, the state now plans to create a special nonprofit corporation, controlled by appointed board members, that will issue debt for the work. Layne said he will serve as chairman of the corporation. The state will own the road and maintain it.
The mostly public equity project involves interest costs.

The public contribution will come from a transportation fund that McDonnell established with bonds intended for public-private partnerships and “mega” transportation projects.
Who carries the burden of this interest expense? Please tell me, Governor.  The only role for US 460 Mobility Partners is designing and building the road.

"The private-sector team will design and build the project at a fixed cost by a fixed date and will take significant risks associated with delivering the project.
Given America's longtime experience with road building, I find it hard to believe there are significant risks in the Governor's contract.  What's 460 Mobility Partner's fee for building the new 460?  Is it 3% of the project, $42 million?  Might it be more?

It's an odd public-private partnership. 

VDOT, in coordination with the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships, procured the project under Virginia's Public-Private Transportation Act, which allows the Commonwealth to partner with the private sector to finance, design and build transportation improvements. 
The Commonwealth brings the lion's share of funding.  One could view Virginia as Santa Claus in this deal.

PEU to Focus Exclusively on Marijuana

Forbes reported:

Leafly’s founders established a second business–Privateer Holdings, believed to be the only private-equity firm focused exclusively on marijuana. It is closing its first-round investment pool of $7 million, which it intends to use to buy existing marijuana-related businesses. One possibility is a vaporizer manufacturer, a mainstay of the medical-user community, because it creates steam (much like the vaporizers of our childhood), instead of smoke.

Privateer Holdings, marijuana PEU.

We are a private equity firm strategically investing in the emerging legal cannabis field. 
This may be the sign of PEU ubiquity.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Carlyle Christmas

The Carlyle Group issued a press release on December 25th.  It announced the sale of Qualicaps, a Japanese drug capsule maker.  Carlyle purchased Qualicaps in October 2005.

Under Carlyle's seven years of ownership revenues grew 50%.  When Carlyle purchased Qualicaps the press release stated:

Steady market growth is also expected for hard capsules in the health and nutrition sector. 
How much market growth was expected vs. the result of Carlyle's global hegemony?  Qualicaps was the second largest global capsule maker in 2005.  It's still #2.

Qualicaps has a more than 20% market share in the pharma-grade capsules segment, the largest segment of the capsule market

Carlyle didn't reveal the price paid for Qualicaps, but it shared the expected $654 million in proceeds from the sale to Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp.

Chuck Hagel PEU


Ex-Senator Chuck Hagel sits on the advisory board of Corsair Capital. a private equity underwriter (PEU) focused on the financial services industry.  Hagel's PEU appointment came in February 2009  His Corsair bio states:

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Senator Hagel was president of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm in Omaha, Nebraska. 

He also serves on the Board of Directors of Chevron Corporation and Zurich’s Holding Company of America; and the Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank America, and is a Senior Advisor to Gallup.
Hagel also serves as Senior Advisor for McCarthy Capital.and director of Wolfensohn and Company, an investment and advisory firm specializing in emerging market economies..

The Pentagon helped make the world safe for American branded multinationals.  Hagel faces a difficult nomination for his stance on Israel and the looming war with Iran over nuclear technology.

Update 1-7-13:  President Obama nominated Hagel for Pentagon Chief.   So far the press is silent on Chuck's PEU ties.

Monday, December 24, 2012

American Christmas Update


It's Christmas Eve and this year's flight found the airline close to emerging from bankruptcy.  I recalled last year's crew, which went to extra lengths to share the spirit of the Season.  They inspired this poem

Twas two nights before Christmas
and all through the plane,
weary travelers expected the usual inane.
But this safety briefing rang with humor and heart
that no corporate script could ever impart.

Travelers perked up their ears, smiles broadened wide
as Stewardess #1 delivered line after line.
The pilot announced he and the first mate
would hold up the trip, making us a little late.
Important packages were destined for the hold.
Gifts for our loved ones, young and old.

These acts took place on one solitary flight 
of an airline in bankruptcy, what a terrible plight.
Pay will be cut and pensions obliterated,
so executive bonuses can be liberated.

Yet this crew set aside the cards they face,
giving great joy to the human race.
Keep this a secret, whatever you do.
Corporate PR would never approve.

Christmas flickers in each heart's light,
especially in those facing challenges of blight.
Many thanks to the creative word stew,
the pilot, first mate, the whole inspired crew.

They brought me home for Christmas,
long before the plane finished its flight.
Love and joy to all,
and to all a good night!
The flight attendant said they'd struck a deal, with less pay, higher costs for health insurance and less retirement (from frozen pension plans).  She just wanted it over with.  At the end, she said she was thankful to have a job.

My flying experience this past year involved full planes.  This Christmas' fare wasn't cheaper than last.  Where will the employee savings go?  How will management incentive compensation grow on the backs of workers?  It remains to be seen

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's a Carlyle Christmas


International Business Times reported on Christmas week's financial news.  It included:

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Carlyle Group (NYSE:CG) are among a number of defendants that will go before United States District Judge Edward Harrington in Boston, for what they say are legitimate private-equity practices against investor allegations that buyout firms and their bankers colluded to rig offers on takeovers, according to Bloomberg.

Other stories included the expected UBS $1.5 billion fine for LIBOR rigging, a suit by credit unions against Bear Stearns/J.P. Morgan for misconduct in selling mortgage backed securities, a potential £350 million RBS fine for LIBOR rigging, and Morgan Stanley paying $5 million for selectively sharing sensitive Facebook financial information in the IPO process.

Meanwhile, Carlyle invested in an energy private equity venture, NGP Energy Capital Management.  NGP has $12.1 billion in assets under management.  Carlyle expects U.S. domestic energy to boom.

Carlyle’s growing natural resources investing platform includes energy mezzanine financing, energy infrastructure & power generation (Cogentrix), and commodities (Vermillion).

Will that get Carlyle back on track to make 30% annual returns for its faithful?

Warms the heart, doesn't it.   Moneychangers are back, PEU (private equity underwriter) and otherwise.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

CLO's Higher, Refininancing Wave on Horizon

Reuters reported:

The collateralized loan obligation market has snapped back briskly, with a $620 million vehicle from The Carlyle Group capping a year when U.S. volume was on track to nearly quadruple to more than $50 billion in new CLO issuance.

The story went on to identify a huge wave of corporate credit refinancing.  

But the leveraged loan market will need continued health in this instrument. According to Mark Okada, co-founder and chief investment officer at Highland Capital, 90 percent of existing CLOs will come to the end of their reinvestment periods by the end of 2014, 80 percent of them by the end of 2013.

Is this why Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is printing money like a madman, so PEU affiliates will find refinancing?  Will securitized corporate credit implode again?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Obama's Corpora-Inauguration


President Obama's second term inauguration will be brought to you by...

Unlike four years ago, Obama now is accepting money from corporations to help pay for the festivities, and there are no limits on those donations.

Clinton and Bush corporafornicated.  Obama plans to corporainaugurate.

PEU's Borrow More on Deals


WSJ reported private equity deals returned to high debt levels seen before the financial crisis:

Private-equity firms are using almost as much debt to fund acquisitions as they did before the financial crisis, as return-hungry investors rush to buy bonds and loans backing those takeovers.

The rise in borrowed money, or leverage, heralds the possibility of juicy returns for buyout groups. Ominously, the surge also brings back memories of the last credit binge around six years ago, which saddled dozens of companies with huge levels of debt. Some companies laden with debt by private-equity firms in the mid 2000s foundered during the recession.

The Carlyle Group just lost its twelfth affiliate, LifeCare Hospitals, to bankruptcy for the reason cited below.

But the more a business borrows, the more it must spend to make debt payments, leading some to default when earnings decline.

Leverage stands at near frothy levels:

In the past six months, the percentage (of PEU equity) has fallen to 33%, according to Thomson Reuters, close to the 31% average in 2006 and the 30% average in 2007.

Recent deals have been done at 30% or less.  Are loan covenants easy again?  Is Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein tempted again, unable to say no to easy money? Carlyle will put down a mere 25% on DuPont Performance Coatings, financing 75%. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Carlyle's LifeCare Finally Bankrupt

The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals officially declared bankruptcy, after a several month implosion.  Bloomberg reported:

The company, which was acquired by private equity firm Carlyle Group LP in 2005, said it has agreed to be bought by a group of its senior secured lenders, but hopes to see what results from an auction supervised by the bankruptcy court.
Carlyle closed on LifeCare weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck, filling New Orleans with toxic gumbo.  LifeCare Hospital had the largest number of patient deaths, 25 from Katrina.  This fact was omitted from the Bush White House Lesson Learned report.  The author, Frances Townsend, continues to ascend in the political and corporate stratosphere.

LifeCare makes a dozen Carlyle bankruptcies since early 2008.  The list includes:

Carlyle Capital Corporation
BlueWave Partners
SemGroup
Hawaiian Telecom
Edscha
IMO Carwash
Stallion Oilfield Services
Verari Systems
Willcom
Oriental Trading
Church Street Health Management 
LifeCare Holdings
Carlyle's latest bankruptcies are in the health arena, dental and long term acute care.  Both deals had plenty of time for Carlyle to show their operating capabilities.  Each imploded under the heavy weight of debt.

Here's how Carlyle sold the bankruptcy:

LCI Holdco, LLC. (the Company), parent company of LifeCare Holdings, Inc., has reached an agreement to be acquired by Hospital Acquisition LLC, an acquisition vehicle owned by LifeCare's senior secured lenders. The transaction will strengthen the Company's financial health and allow future growth of LifeCare’s business.

The PEU model is proposed as the salvation of health care.  If that's the case, the medicine may be worse than the disease.

The main case is In re LCI Holding Co. Inc., 12-13319, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). 


Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Tax Frontier to Be Set by Conflicted PEU Guard?

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation established the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security.  Like Blackstone Founder Pete Peterson, this group has deep private equity underwriter (PEU) ties.  Building on work done by HuffPo, I offer the following PEU connections.

Secretary Madeleine Albright - Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC (PEU).  White Female, 75 years old

Samuel R. Berger - Albright Stonebridge - PEU advisor.  White Male, 67 years old

Secretary Harold Brown - retired partner from Warburg Pincus (PEU) and Board of Evergreen Oil, Phillip Morris and Altria Group.  White Male, 84 years old

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski - Global power player and fan of centralization, concentrated source of power with universal reach.  His son Ian is a player in the defense sector, with experience in Europe and the Ukraine.  Ian currently heads The Brzezinski Group, with major client Taci Oil, an Albanian firm.  Another son Mark serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.  White Male, 84 years old

Secretary James A. Baker - Monument Capital Advisory Board (PEU) and historical ties to Carlyle Group (PEU).   White Male, 82 years old

Secretary Frank Carlucci - Monument Capital Advisory Board (PEU) and former Carlyle Group CEO (PEU)  Founder of Frontier Group (PEU).  White Male, 82 years old

Secretary Robert M. Gates - Consults with PEU's as Principal with RiceHadleyGates LLC.  Serves on the Board of Starbucks, an international company.  White Male, 69 years old.  RiceHadleyGates LLC partnered with Khosla Ventures (PEU)

Secretary Henry Kissinger - Founded Kissinger Associates, which joined with McClarty Associates.  Kissinger McLarty partnered with PEUs like Blackstone..  Partner Thomas F. "Mac" McLarty is a Senior Advisor for The Carlyle Group.  McLarty Associates dropped the Kissinger name and currently serves global bastions Nike, GE and Walmart.  White Male, 89 years old,

Senator Sam Nunn - Board of GE, Hess Corporation and Coca Cola - all international firms.  White Male, 74 years old

Secretary Paul O’Neill - Consultant to Peterson's Blackstone Group (PEU).  Served on numerous corporate boards,  including TRW Automotive, Celanese, Nalco and Eastman Kodak.  Blacktone affiliates include TRW, Nalco and Celanese.  Wants tax code fixed to be worthy of America.  White Male, 77 years old

Secretary George P. Shultz - Strategic Advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors and chairman of the J.P. Morgan Chase International Council.  White Male, 92 years old.

Representative Ike Skelton - Serves on the Board of defense contractor EADS North America  Shelton is a partner with Husch Blackwell, a law firm with PEU clients.  White Male, 81 years old

Chairman Paul Volcker - Former Fed Chief.  White Male, 85 years old

Senator John Warner - Managing Member Old Sailor LLC and Board member for drone maker Aurora Flight Sciences.  White Male, 85 years old

Admiral Michael G. Mullen - Chairman of Coalition for Fiscal and National Security.  Mullen said over two years ago the biggest threat to the U.S. was our national debt.  White Male, 66 years old

100% White, 93% Male, average Age 79.5 and 87% conflicted.  I expect the Pete Peterson's of the world to come out on top in any new tax schema. PEU's look after their own.  It's a Red and Blue PEU world.

Update 12-22-12:  WSJ reported how "small businesses" includes PEU's.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rubenstein's Reading Philanthropy

Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein gave The Library of Congress $1.5 million.  The Library will use the funds to establish three reading awards:

The library will create the David M. Rubenstein Prize to honor a groundbreaking contribution in advancing literacy. It’s also creating an American Prize and an International Prize to honor projects that combat disinterest in reading.

Might an early Rubenstein Prize winner be the author of a PEU lingo translation dictionary?   Will the American or International Prize go to someone fighting the latest version of bribing children?  Earlier efforts included Pizza Hut's "Book It" program or Newt Gingrich's national effort of paying kids to read.

Extrinsic motivators, "do this to get that," kill intrinsic motivators.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan uses PEU management theory, privatize, compete, bribe, punish, then double down on same.

Bribes fail to teach respect and responsibility. In place of respect and responsibility, many of today's kids are cultivating a sense of entitlement, which is a "prescription for a lifetime of unhappiness."

It's a shame when education experts can't identify and test their theories, much less learn.

Both rewards and punishments are controlling ways of raising children." Although rewards may sound preferable, she argues, they're just the flip side of punishment and don't produce lasting change. Bribing children and doling out rewards can prompt temporary compliance, she adds, but they don't foster decision making skills, competency, or autonomy.
Rubenstein's PEU house of cards is built on greed, paying interest instead of taxes, and preferred tax status, which makes private equity firms virtual nonprofits.  Rubenstein and his billionaire PEU peers have their version of Race to the Top, the Forbes Richest List.

Update 9-29-13:  Alfie Kohn's latest article is "Encouraging Courage."  That means standing up to the many corporate, top down, extrinsic motivation, compliance oriented methods used to kill kids' intrinsic motivation for learning.  PEU David Rubenstein serves the Bill Gates of the world, who by virtue of their incredible wealth, drive damaging education policy

Monday, December 3, 2012

Congress & Panda Bear Mating: Carlyle Style

The window of opportunity for pandas to mate is .05% a year, according to Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein.  That's a mere one twentieth of The Carlyle Group's historic tax rate of 1%

Private equity underwriter (PEU) Rubenstein gave $4.5 million to help pandas reproduce.  However, he's not keen on sharing his PEU profits with Congress.  Rubenstein and his PEU trade group regularly descended on Capital Hill to keep Carlyle's preferred PEU tax status. 

Note Rubenstein's penchant for sexual analogy.  The Carlyle co-founder cited PEU excesses leading to the financial crash as "like sex."  Politicians, both Red & Blue, have long been in bed with PEU's, greedy financial manipulators.  Policy making billionaire Rubenstein can call them by name.

My guess is Rubenstein wants politicians to get together and make him more money.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gen. Peter Pace's Board Attributes

Retired General Peter Pace occupies ten director chairs.  He provides board governance for the following firms:

Berman Capital
SM&A Strategic Advisers
Neohapsis
Finmeccanica
Pike Electric
ILC Industries
Pelican Products
Wi2Wi
AAR Corp.

Qualys 

Qualys, where Pace served on the board since 2009, recently went public.  They state in their S-1:

We believe that Gen. Pace possesses specific attributes that qualify him to serve as a member of our board of directors, including his experience as a director of technology and defense companies and his background in public service. 
General Pace's stature in the Government-Corporate Monstrosity, Eisenhower's MIC on trillions in federal steroids, doesn't hurt. 

Walmart Drops Health Coverage for Certain Part Time Employees


The slow shedding of employer health coverage inched forward, according to HuffPo:

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, plans to begin denying health insurance to newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week, according to a copy of the company’s policy obtained by The Huffington Post.

Under the policy, slated to take effect in January, Walmart also reserves the right to eliminate health care coverage for certain workers if their average workweek dips below 30 hours -- something that happens with regularity and at the direction of company managers.

Walmart declined to disclose how many of its roughly 1.4 million U.S. workers are vulnerable to losing medical insurance under its new policy. In an emailed statement, company spokesman David Tovar said Walmart had “made a business decision” not to respond to questions.

The light at the end of the PPACA tunnel is a train.  The race to the lowest global common denominator continues on worker pay/benefits.  With employers doing less and Uncle Sam tapped out, a much greater burden is headed your way.   You may be on your own for health care and retirement.

Update 2-17-13:  Many on their own for retirement are not prepared.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

True Religion PEU


Denim maker True Religion accepted bids from private equity underwriters (PEU's).  Potential bidders include Carlyle Group, Apax Partners and Leonard Green & Partners. 

PEU Glam Rock stars include The Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein, who draws adoring crowds at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center.  PEU's occupy the fast lane, given private capital is the answer to all of America's ills, healthcare, infrastructure and education. 

PEU is America's true religion, so it's fitting True Religion is going PEU. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PEU Headliners for Dealbook Conference

Pyments.com reported:
The New York Times announces its inaugural DealBook conference, “Opportunities for Tomorrow,” which will explore the opportunities and challenges posed by the 2012 election results, including the regulatory landscape, the relationship between economic growth and jobs, and what Congress and the President should do for the economy over the next four years

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman, CEO and president of Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Company; Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; David Rubenstein, co-CEO and co-founder of The Carlyle Group; Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google; and Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group. 

Goldman and JP Morgan have private equity divisions and actively resell private equity stakes   Private equity underwriters (PEU's) know tax avoidance and have political connections to reset any tax table to their liking.   

We are bringing together some 400 leaders from the public and private sectors, including investors, government officials, chief executive officers and analysts. Opportunities for tomorrow will be redefined by the election. And by our collective efforts.

Dealbook's headliners drive federal policy to their advantage. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

PEU Moves to Avoid the Taxman


The PEU tax avoidance shell game is on, according to Bloomberg:

Private-equity managers are bracing for higher taxes in 2013 and in the final weeks of this year are refinancing investments, accelerating gains and shifting what they transfer to trusts.

Some are considering whether to accelerate gains on accrued carried interest at current tax rates. One way to do that is by transferring general partner interests to an affiliate in a taxable transaction, Brown said. 


The affiliate is usually set up as an S Corporation or a non-U.S. firm based in a place like the Cayman Islands so it isn’t subject to corporate-level U.S. tax, he said. 

There's more than one strategy to keep PEU's preferred taxation, have it in any new law.  Members of Congress know who provides their re-election funding.

Proposals in Congress have allowed so- called qualified capital, or investments that managers make alongside investors in a deal, to still be taxed at preferential rates.
Red and Blue love PEU.

Update 12-6-12:  PEU's are ready to remake the world in their image.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Carlyle Group's Latest Taxpayer Subsidy


The Carlyle Group's TurboCombuster Technology received nearly $4.9 million in offers to expand production in Martin County, Florida and provide 200 new jobs.  Carlyle has until 2016 to add the required positions.

Martin County Economic Development Fund grant: $900,000
Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund grant: $3 million
State sales tax exemption for equipment purchases: $420,000
State workforce training grant: $350,000
Florida Power & Light Co.: $200,000 rate reduction

Texans gave Carlyle's Vought Aircraft Industries $35 million for 3,000 new jobs.  Carlyle had six years to meet their stated commitment.

The consolidation plan, as originally designed, would renovate and modernize the Dallas facilities and would close the Nashville and Stuart sites.
Stuart is Stuart, Florida in Martin County.  Carlyle didn't close the Stuart plant and never met its Texas job promises.

With three years to go, Vought CEO Elmer Doty stated new jobs weren't coming.  Vought reclassified the money from operating capital to financing in 2006.

Governor Perry has a whopper of a fish tale, that Vought provided 29,000 jobs, when it actually cut 35.  Texans gave Carlyle $1 million per job lost.  Perry renegotiated the deal before Carlyle sold Vought to Triumph in 2010. 

Let's hope Floridians have a much better and more honest experience with Carlyle.  Texans got ridden hard and put up wet.

Bonus fact:  Palm Beach County and Palm Beach Gardens together approved $272,800 in tax incentives to attract Chromalloy, another Carlyle Group affiliate. The state of Florida approved about $700,000.  Nothing beats a nondebt, nonequity capital injection.

Update 12-1-12:  A Realtor sued for their commission on the TurboCombuster property and incentive package deal.  After Carlyle purchased TurboCombuster, this realtor was shut out, despite years of work.

Update 3-10-13:  Governor Rick Scott will be in Stuart for a ceremony celebrating nearly $5 million in subsidy for Carlyle's TurboCombuster Technology.  Scott's PEU background is with Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.

Update 7-9-15:  Moody's downgraded TurboCombuster's debt due to weakening cash flows, less than expected operating performance and earnings headwinds.

Update 9-2-15:  Uncle Sam will send Chromalloy $74 million in business via Oklahoma's Tinker Air Force Base. 

Update 9-26-16:  Moody's downgraded TurboCombustor yet again due to tight liquidity and weak credit metrics due to the firm's high leverage, a signature PEU move.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Autonomy in PEU Hall of Fame

Autonomy PLC, the firm HP wrote down by $8.8 billion, was inducted into the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Hall of Fame in October 2008, roughly one month into the U.S. Financial Crisis. 

The logic for inducting Autonomy was "for being one of the rare European technology companies to grow from a start-up to a $1 billion dollar company in 10 years or less."

Adams Street Partners claimed Autonomy as an affiliate, prior to HP's buyout.  Deloitte audited Autonomy and staunchly defends its record.  Oddly, Autonomy may end up in a different PEU Hall of Fame, from $10 billion to $1 billion in 13 months or less."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Distressed Investors Carlyle & MEG Battle in Court

The Carlyle Group's Sapphire Energy charged lawyers with snatching back $17.5 million in escrow money owed to Morris Energy Group LLC from the purchase of eight power plants.   It's the battle of an army of lawyers from competing distressed investors, MEG vs. Carlyle/Riverstone:

MEG focuses on improving the financial performance of distressed generating businesses in the Northeast U.S.
Carlyle/Riverstone's Sapphire is managed by the Topaz Power Group team. Topaz is 50% owned by Carlyle.

Which group will win?   Which will cause the other more distress?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Running One of America's Largest Employers

Bloomberg spoke with Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein.  Reporter Erik Schatzker called Rubenstein one of America's largest employers.  A fact check showed

Founded in 1987 in Washington, DC, Carlyle has grown into one of the world’s largest and most successful investment firms, with more than 1,300 professionals operating in 32 offices in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Japan, Asia and Australia.

Who knew a private equity underwriter (PEU) employing 1,300 people across the globe is one of America's largest employers?   Why the distortion?

Rubenstein brings to mind America's former large employers, the Robber Barons.  The History Channel has a series on these titans, many "self made men" like Rubenstein.

Carlyle manages $157 billion in assets, a sum requiring Bloomberg's reporters to kow tow and Capital Hill to extend red carpet treatment.  Just as the Robber Barons knew how to influence regulatory and tax policy to their ends, so do PEU's.  Rubenstein's excitement over tax restructuring is sure to have a number of PEU plums.

PEU Returns to Fall Says Rubenstein

Bloomberg reported:
David Rubenstein, co-chief executive officer of Carlyle Group LP (CG), said returns on private equity will decline from their historic averages as lackluster economic growth forces firms to put more money into deals and hold their investments longer. 

Carlyle, which has produced average returns of about 30 percent over the past 25 years, is targeting gains of about 20 percent when doing deals now, Rubenstein said.
The Carlyle Group's Rubenstein promised 20% returns on infrastructure projects, i.e. lower than historical PEU returns but with less risk.  Will he stick with those projections in light of his overall return downward revision

Another element cited by Rubenstein is the challenge in raising funds for investment.  Fellow PEU KKR will over two new investment funds to retail investors, according to FT:

The growing spread of businesses raises the potential for new conflicts with asset managers and the creation of the internal “Chinese walls” common at investment banks to protect against the inappropriate spread of information or unfair treatment of different investors
Not only can investors buy a KKR mutual fund, they can buy KKR or Carlyle Group common units on the stock exchange.  Carlyle's IPO stated common unit interest would come after private equity investor and partner interests.


With private equity searching out the common investor, the game may be nearing its end.  Founders want to cash in, which means they want to pass the bag.  Will the individual investor, shut out of high returns for three decades, suddenly become the bagholder? 

Update 6-22-14:  PEU's want individuals with defined contribution retirement savings to invest in private equity.  The story says there's lots of interest, but no one wants to go first.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

PEU to Star at Smithsonian Book Festival

Equities.com reported:

The Library of Congress on December 6 and 7 will host the first International Summit of the Book, a gathering of leaders in academia, libraries, culture and technology to debate and discuss the powerful and crucial form of information transmittal: the book.

Speakers for the two-day event include David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group and a major supporter of literacy initiatives at the Library of Congress...

The summit will take place in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.
Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein made billions buying and selling companies as a private equity underwriter (PEU).  Thomas Jefferson's fortunes grew from the labor of slaves, the buying and selling of people.

Both Jefferson and Rubenstein displayed youthful idealism.  As a young man Thomas Jefferson believed slaves should be free.  Young lawyer Rubenstein worked in President Jimmy Carter's White House as a domestic policy adviser.

Jefferson later embraced the Southern economic system based on slave labor.  The October issue of Smithsonian included "Master of Monticello", which stated this about Jefferson:

It had long been accepted that slaves could be seized for debt, but Jefferson turned this around when he used slaves as collateral for a very large loan taken out in 1796 from a Dutch banking house in order to rebuild Monticello.  He pioneered the monetizing of slaves, just as he pioneered the industrialization and diversification of slavery.

Thomas Jefferson levered slaves, which makes him a PEU forefather.

After leaving the Carter White House Rubenstein took advantage of another oppressed people, Alaskan Natives.

In 1984, a law was passed allowing native corporations in Alaska—that is, Eskimo owned companies created by Congress to manage native lands—to sell their losses to businesses looking for tax write-offs. The Marriott executives, working with David Rubenstein at Shaw Pittman, discovered the Eskimo clause and vigorously bought the losses to offset gains. The adventure has become known in some quarters as the Great Eskimo Tax Scam.

Did Rubenstein's windfall from the "Great Eskimo Tax Scam" provide the kitty used to start The Carlyle Group in the mid 80's?  Carlyle began as a leveraged buyout (LBO) firm.

Early LBO firms mined equity from over-funded pension plans.  LBO's morphed into private equity.  PEU's became ubiquitous in the last decade.  Their founders rose to modern robber barons.

While claiming to be the savior of public pension plans in need of greater return, recent Carlyle deals, RAC and Brintons, ditched the worker pension plan onto the public or another party.

It's fitting PEU Rubenstein will speak in the Thomas Jefferson building at the Smithsonian.  For both men idealism morphed into greed

The timing could be good for Rubenstein to push former Bloomberg reporter Jason Kelley's new book, The New Tycoons, which fawns over PEU's.  I expect this book is as impartial as General David Petraeus' biography, written by his paramour.  It's an odd time when PEU's and Petraeus freely skate from their sins.  Yet, Rubenstein would have one believe "patriotic philanthropy" is the balm that heals all.  I'm not buying the act.

Update 3-10-13:  Yet the Wall Street Journal did.

Update 5-12-14:  Rubenstein will speak at Monticello's July 4th naturalization ceremony.

Update 9-17-17:   General David Petraeus joined PEU KKR in May 2013 and recently was appointed to the board of a KKR affiliate focused on cybersecurity.

Friday, November 9, 2012

PEU Nonprofit Status Unlikely to Change


Businessweek reported:

“It may not mean a direct hit to the bottom line for the firms, but investors will see their tax bills increase.”

That's because private equity underwriters (PEU's) are virtual nonprofits, like your local church or safety net hospital.  Carlyle declared $2.3 billion in income before provision for income taxes, with a paltry $27.8 million income tax provision.  That's a 1.2% income tax rate.

Whether it's income or equity cash-ins, PEU founders get huge tax discounts.  Given how much Red and Blue love PEU, I expect little change in PEU firm's nonprofit status.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Carlyle Seeks Carpet Subsidies


The Carlyle Group is considering a bid for British carpet maker Victoria, destabilized and marked down due to Board level infighting this past summer.  While Carlyle loves disequilibrium and buying key assets on the cheap, something more may be afoot.

Carlyle took over Brintons', another British carpet maker, by effectively calling their debt.  The Carlyle Group dumped Brintons' pension on the public in the prepackaged bankruptcy process.  

Carlyle wants major government subsidies to update its Brintons' carpet plant in Kidderminster, which happens to be home of Victoria.  Should Carlyle add Victoria might that improve its prospects for a major nondebt, nonequity capital injection, courtesy of taxpayers?  Nobody does government-corporate welfare better than the boys at Carlyle.

As for ethics, consider words of the Brintons' founding family:

The descendants of the founding Brinton family accused Carlyle of breaking a string of promises to gain control.
Fearless greed, it's the PEU way.

TEDx: Rubenstein's Fearless "Patriotic Philanthropy"


WaPo reported on Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein's talk at the Regional TEDx, held in Washington D.C.  

WaPo's piece stated
Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein> has coined a new phrase to capture his approach to giving away millions: “patriotic philanthropy.” Speaking at the October 26 TEDx Conference sponsored by The Case Foundation at Sidney Harman Hall, Rubenstein said citizens – rich and middle class alike—should give to arts and cultural causes that are threatened by government deficits running into the trillions. Ergo, patriotic philanthropy. Rubenstein should know. The billionaire private equity figure gave millions last January toward the repair of the Washington Monument, which was damaged in an earthquake last year. He also donated $4.5 million to the National Zoo’s panda program, and loaned a copy of the Magna Carta, worth some $20 million plus, to the National Archives.

Fearless David Rubenstein's TEDx theme can be summarized as this:

Make hay on PEU tax breaks, buy and sell affiliates with large chunks of government business, then donate to causes threatened by government deficits. 
At least that's my take.  Ironically, the Carlyle Group occupied three slots out of fourteen D.C. residents on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans.

David Rubenstein is a modern day robber baron, thus politicians, the business media and attorneys general cater to his every need.

If Rubenstein were truly concerned about people suffering from cuts in government services, he'd have refunded Texas taxpayers $35 million long ago.  The Carlyle Group's Vought Aircraft Industries promised 3,000 new jobs in 2004, never delivered and kept $35 million interest free for six years. 

Florida residents watch out.  Carlyle's Dynamic Precision Group stands to garner $5 million in subsidies for 200 new jobs.   How much patriotic philanthropy will be needed around Stuart due to government-corporate welfare? 

21% of D.C. billionaires founded the Carlyle Group.  Fellow co-founder and billionaire William Conway stated:

The seeds of the firm’s initial success was that they showed their investors that “we understood businesses that do business with the government.” 

Clear?  It's PEU fearlessness. 

Update 3-10-13:  It's WSJ's turn to laud Rubenstein's patriotic philanthropy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Carlyle Group's LifeCare Nightmare Nearly Over?


Carlyle Group affiliate LifeCare Holdings sits in purgatory, given it defaulted on its debt and loan waivers expired November 1.  What will happen?  Carlyle could:

1.  Sell LifeCare
2.  Declare bankruptcy and turn the company over to lenders, who then could sell the company (like Carlyle did with Oriental Trading, just resold by KKR & company to Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway)..

Once Carlyle loses LifeCare, it will jettison its role in owning the New Orleans hospital that lost 25 patients in the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  It may be a relief to bury that PEU nightmare.

Update 11-8-12:  Carlyle extended LifeCare's loan waivers until December 15.

Update 11-15-12:  LifeCare paid Rothschild et al $5.7 million instead of making a $5.5 million payment on its debt.  That started Carlyle's strategic default of LifeCare.   Carlyle's planning for a change in control.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kelley Fawns over New PEU Tycoons


Forbes published a book review of Jason Kelley's "The New Tycoons:  Inside the New Private Equity Industry that Owns Everything."  The review showed Jason's PEU love, which he honed as a former Bloomberg reporter. 

Another ex-Bloomberg reporter had this to say regarding PEU's:

There are very few people out there who will talk and write honestly about private equity. I know from personal experience that the financial press is so eager to break news on "deals" that reporters (who are increasingly compensated on the number of "market moving stories" they write) can't afford to be critical of Carlyle, KKR and Blackstone, and risk losing access to people at those firms.
Jason's book should ensure access for some time to come.

I can remember Bloomberg's private equity reporter - who you featured in a recent blog photo - going on TV to talk about the HCA dividend and calling it a "liquidity event." The reporters are trained by the PE firms' PR people to use language that they find acceptable. Wouldn't want to say they're "cashing out." I've never seen anything like it before.
Even when PEU's confess to their insider connected ways of making billions, Jason provided a free pass.

Carlyle co-founder Bill Conway told Kelly that the seeds of the firm’s initial success was that they showed their investors that “we understood businesses that do business with the government.”
Trained by PEU firms to use acceptable language.  Kelley learned a whole book's worth.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

PEU Liquidity Recaps (Dividend Bleeding) Soar

Private equity underwriters (PEU's) saddled affiliates with debt in order to pay huge dividends to the PEU parent:  At least that's the pattern for 2012, according to Pensions & Investments:

LBO shops (private equity underwriters) have taken out 91 cents in dividends for every dollar of capital they've invested this year.

It's not just traditional debt being added to affiliate balance sheets.

Risky types of debt unseen since last decade are resurfacing, such as PIK-toggle notes. PIK-toggles, which NBTY used to finance its dividend to Carlyle, are bonds that allow borrowers to delay payments to creditors in exchange for increasing their debt load. The default rate for companies that use this form of financing is double the rate of similar companies, according to Moody's.
The Carlyle Group bled numerous affiliates for dividends.  Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein has been fearless in liquidity recaps.  It's but one of many ways PEU's rake it in. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Carlyle's Rubenstein Speaks on Fearlessness

Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein spoke at TEDx Mid-Atlantic

Each speaker was called on to say how he or she had exhibited the conference’s main theme:  Fearlessness 
Rubenstein's fearlessness has been on display many times on PEU Report.  He showed his massive cojones for demanding Congress keep his preferred PEU tax status, doing so multiple times.   He fearlessly accepted incredibly lax credit terms for PEU deal financing, later making the analogy to sex and everyone's inability to say no. 

David Rubenstein was fearless in holding onto Texas taxpayer money for jobs promised by Vought Aircraft Industries. For six years Carlyle affiliate Vought held onto $35 million, providing none of the promised 3,000 new jobs. Fearless....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Glenn Hubbard: Mitt's PEU Chief Economic Advisor


Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's private equity underwriter (PEU) background is clear from his stint at Bain Capital.  However, Romney's Chief Economic Advisor Glenn Hubbard has his own PEU history.

Since 1994 Glenn served as the Russell L. Carson Professor of Economics and Finance at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business.  Russ Carson is a founder of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. a private equity underwriter specializing in health care and information/business services.  Romney's economic advisor has been PEU sponsored for eighteen years.

WCAS was founded in 1979, a time when U.S. manufacturers were being trounced by the Japanese. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, an American taught the Japanese about quality.  Deming's System of Profound Knowledge, which consisted of systems theory, understanding variation, knowledge (how do we know what we know?), psychology (what demotivates people) and interactions between the four areas.

In 1984 Dr. Deming lamented takeovers and leveraged buyouts (LBO's) as the antithesis of his teachings and highly damaging to constancy of purpose .  LBO's were re-branded private equity, where Mitt Romney later cut his "management" teeth.  Romney's history in job elimination and shipping jobs overseas mirrors that of other PEU's.

"Unemployment is not inevitable.  It is a sign of bad management."--Dr. W. Edwards Deming
Deming also stated knowledge is prediction.  Hubbard advised President George W. Bush on his 2001 tax cuts and made a number of predicitons:

On August 22, 2001, Hubbard published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Tax Cuts Won't Hurt the Surplus."

In the article, Hubbard also predicts that his tax cuts would preserve the Clinton budget surpluses by causing GNP to grow 0.3% per year faster.
Tax cuts benefited the PEU class in the last decade, which saw explosive growth in private equity.

Over half of the benefits of the Bush-Hubbard tax cuts went to the top 1% of the population. In part to benefit the wealthy, the tax cuts were also structured to reward investment in financial assets, rather than either consumer spending or real capital investment. As a result, the tax cuts caused huge budget deficits, yet did little to stimulate growth or job creation: There were basically no new jobs created during the Bush administration, despite adding trillions to the national debt.
Many PEU affiliate jobs went overseas during this time.  Meanwhile, Glenn Hubbard personally benefited from board positions, public and private


Mr. Hubbard has been a director of KKR Financial since October 2004.  He is currently a director of ADP, Inc., BlackRock Closed-End Funds and MetLife,  Inc. He was previously a board member of Capmark Financial, Duke Realty Corporation, Ripplewood Holdings, RH Donnelly and Information Services Group, Inc. 

Election talk has little to do with the way either party governed the last decade. Reds and Blues compete for the right to steer trillions in government spending to their friends, as they dole out tax goodies.  Red and Blue love PEU...

Mitt's PEU stench is great, according to PEU David Stockman.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mitt's PEU HIgh Seas


Wired reported on Mitt Romney's Naval advisor, John Lehman and his PEU ties. 
The piece exposed Lehman's profits from shipbuilding deals, the public version.  However, they missed Lehman's role with a number of private companies.  The following made Lehman's EnerSys board bio in 2008.
He is the Chairman of the following private companies: 

1.  Special Devices, Incorporated, a manufacturer of initiators
2.  OAO Technology Solutions, Inc., an informations solutions provider
3.  Racal Instruments, Inc., a test and measurement systems developer
4.  Racal Acoustics Ltd., an audio communications company.
5.  He also serves as a Director of ISO Inc., a risk information provider. 
This was prior to the fall 2008 financial crisis, which took out a number of marginal companies, especially those highly levered.  Here's the odd thing, the EnerSys bio below Lehman's belongs to Ray Mabus, the current Secretary of Navy under President Obama.

Lehman's PEU bio added more companies to his board list:

He has served on the boards of TI Group plc, Westland Helicopter plc, Sedgwick plc and many of JFLCO’s realized investments. He currently is a director of Ball Corporation, ISO Inc., EnerSys, JFL DMH Partners, LLC (“Drew Marine”). 

Did Lehman have any connections to Cleveland Ships LLC, a mysterious company interested in buying Northrop Grumman's shipbuilding business?  Northrop spun the division off as Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., which has a close connection to Lehman's PEU. 

Thomas Fargo is Chair of Huntington Ingalls and "Member of Operating Executive Board at J.F. Lehman & Company." Fargo is a Managing Director of J.F. Lehman.

J.F. Lehman lists eighteen companies in its portfolio, however only six are current investments.  Last year it closed on a $575.5 million fund JFL Fund III.  The press release stated:

J.F. Lehman & Company focuses exclusively on the defense, aerospace and maritime industries and the technologies that originate from them. This investment strategy reflects the firm's deep experience in and commitment to these sectors for nearly two decades. Consistent with the firm's historical investment program, the funds will focus on control ownership positions in leveraged acquisitions of high quality companies in the firm's target industries in the United States and the United Kingdom. JFL Fund III has completed one acquisition to date: the June 2011 investment in US Joiner, a leading provider of end-to-end marine joiner and related shipbuilding solutions for U.S. Government and commercial customers. The firm has offices in New York and Washington, D.C.

In Mitt Romney's PEU world, connections matter, especially when spending Uncle Sam's trillions. Lehman exemplifies America's Government-Corporate Monstrosity, which Romney would love to co-chair.