Top executives at buyout firms including Blackstone Group, KKR, Bain Capital and Carlyle Group assured each other in e-mails that they wouldn’t compete on deals to avoid driving up prices and angering competitors, according to a now public court complaint.
Bloomberg reports that the correspondence was cited as evidence that the firms rigged bids in 19 leveraged buyouts and eight other transactions, including the biggest deals of the leveraged buyout boom, according to the amended complaint unsealed Wednesday by a federal judge in Boston.
'We would much rather work with you guys than against you', Blackstone President Tony James wrote in an e-mail to KKR co-founder George Roberts in reference to the Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. (FSL) buyout, according to the complaint. 'Together we can be unstoppable but in opposition we can cost each other a lot of money'. According to the complaint, Roberts replied, 'Agreed'.
The disclosures are a setback for the industry’s efforts to clean up its image, which has come under scrutiny as Bain Capital co-founder Mitt Romney seeks to become the next U.S. President.
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