PE Deals of the Year
Last year's fickle trends bestowed upon private equity mixed blessings. If they had their druthers, financial sponsors would have preferred a longer first half of 2011 -- a time of bountiful realizations amid strong credit flows and a recovering market for initial public offerings. And they would have dispensed with the second half altogether, as worries deepened over the euro zone and the U.S. debt-ceiling debate, casting a pall over private equity and tipping some portfolio holdings over the edge. We may have put some distance between now and 2008, but aftershocks continue, particularly for businesses burdened by debt obligations or maturities.
In short, private equity remains a grind-it-out struggle.
That's what becomes obvious as we parse the year's big gains and ugly busts in our annual Private Equity Deals of the Year report. The lineup reprises our coverage over the 2011 calendar year, adding a fresh look, admittedly, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. And we've included some new wrinkles. This year, we're highlighting individual dealmakers, the architects and financial engineers behind these noteworthy transactions.
As usual, we have a clutch of winners. Some of the biggest liquidity events include PAI Partners SAS's exit from French yogurt maker Yoplait SAS; Onex Corp.'s healthy returns from Emergency Medical Services Corp.; Apollo Global Management LLC's sale of satellite-based communications services provider Hughes Communications Inc. to EchoStar Corp.; and Silver Lake's short but sweet investment in Internet telephony company Skype Technologies SA. The Deal magazine's private equity team has also revisited other noteworthy deals, such as a hearty exit by sponsors behind Latin American hamburger chain Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc., McDonald's Corp.'s largest franchisee.
But there were casualties as well. Of the many deals that left sponsors battered and bloodied, we've highlighted the complex debt restructuring of Blackstone Group LP's Travelport Ltd.; the out-of-court restructuring of Keystone Automotive Operations Inc.; and four restaurant casualties that took their debt woes to bankruptcy court. For good measure, we've tallied up the numbers of PE bankruptcy filings for the year, too.
As for unusual twists and turns, we take another look at El Paso Corp.'s CEO, Douglas Foshee, who got himself banged around in Delaware by expressing an interest in a management buyout in the midst of another M&A deal. All in all, it's quite a crowded tableau.