Some of the largest private equity firms could be on the hook for more than $1 billion to settle a collusion lawsuit, according to a report Thursday.
Firms such as Blackstone, Bain Capital and KKR face the sizable price tag over charges that between 2004 and 2008 they conspired to fix prices in a slew of deals that sent public companies private, the New York Post reported.
The lawsuit alleges that the firms agreed not to "jump" each others bids. The agreement was referred to in one email as "private etiquette" and meant the PE firms would not try to offer a better bid once a deal was announced publicly. The suit focuses on eight buyouts totaling more than $100 billion.
"I think there was a time the plaintiffs would have settled for $1 billion, but that time has passed," a source told the Post.
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The other firms involved are Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs' PE arm, Silver Lake Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners and TPG Capital Management.
Sources told the Post that the defendants are not ready to settle and that both parties remain dissatisfied with the settlement figures.
The settlement talks reportedly escalated after a judge had set a Nov. 14, 2014, trial date. The defendants have tried 10 times to have the suit thrown out, but have been unsuccessful.
image: © teegardin