A club deal, in finance, refers to a leveraged buyout or other private equity investment that involves two or more private equity firms. It can also be referred as consortium or syndicated investment.
In a club deal, the investor group of private equity firms pools its assets together and makes the acquisition collectively. The practice has allowed private equity to purchase larger and more expensive companies than each firm could acquire through its own private equity funds. By syndicating the equity ownership across a group of investment firms, each firm reduces its concentration and is able to maintain the diversification of its portfolio of investments.
From 1984 to 2007, an average of 63% of US venture capital firm investments were syndicated according to a 2010 study, rising up to 77% in 2000.
In the US, the years from 2000 to 2010 have been called “the conspiratorial era.” The years from 2003 until 2007 were also described as "the era of club deals", since the 2006 antitrust investigation of the Department of Justice prompted a decrease;As of 2014[update] though, the Department has not brought charges. In 2007, private plaintiffs filed a first class action law suit against 13 private equity firms for conspiring in club deals to keep buyout prices down, followed by two more in the ensuing years, which the court consolidated and scaled down against 11 equity firms. In June 2014, Bain Capital Partners, LLC and Goldman Sachs settled for a combined $121 million after more than six years of litigation. An unnamed Goldman executive was quoted as saying “club etiquette” had prevailed in the $17.6 billion takeover of Freescale Semiconductor. End of July Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and TPG Capital settled for a combined $325 million, as published only in August. In September 2014 a judge will decide whether the plaintiffs can be considered a class whether to approve the settlements. The Carlyle group is the only hold out that has not settled yet.
Financial characteristics and outcomes
In a 2009 study of 198 leveraged buyouts in the US from 1984 to 2007, 29% were syndicated and "target shareholders receive[d] approximately 10% less of pre-bid firm equity value, or roughly 40% lower premiums, in club deals compared to sole-sponsored leveraged buyouts", the so-called club discount. However, the lower premiums disappeared with increasing percentage of institutional ownership in the target company, maybe because of institutional owners greater bargaining power for a higher price. On average, club deals were larger in transaction size than sole-sponsor buyouts, but fewer than 20 percent were larger than the largest sole-sponsor buyouts in the last four years. Premiums were lower in club deals announced prior to 2006 than since then. Club deals were no less risky as measured by return volatility and beta, than a sole-sponsor buyout. Even when controlling for size, risk and leverage ratios, club deals required more lenders than sole-sponsor buyouts.
In 2006 the US Department of Justice, concerned with bid rigging, opened an investigation of private equity firms regarding their participation in consortiums in past sales.
The 2009 study of US buyouts from 1984 to 2007 with 59 club deals concluded that "[...] private equity clubs constrain the supply of debt financing for competing bids by aggressively locking up debt financiers”.
Institutional investors investing as limited partners in private equity funds criticize the practice of club deals that results in holdings in the same investment through different funds. Large limited partners have preferred to support large leveraged buyouts through equity co-investments alongside the leading financial sponsor.[third-party source needed]
Among the most notable of the large club deals completed were the following:
- Lerner, Josh (1994). "The syndication of venture capital investments". Financial Management. 23: 16–27. doi:10.2307/3665618.
- Daniel N. Deli; Muku Santhanakrishnan (August 2010). "Syndication in Venture Capital Financing". Financial Review. 45 (3): 557–578. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6288.2010.00261.x. SSRN 1639194.
- Peter Lattman (13 March 2013). "Private Equity Firms Fail in Effort to Have Antitrust Case Dismissed". New York Times Dealbook. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- Jon Fougner (6 October 2013). "Antitrust Enforcement in Private Equity: Target, Bidder, and Club Sizes Should Matter". Yale Journal on Regulation. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- Alden, William (11 June 2014). "Goldman and Bain Settle Suit on Collusion". NYTimes. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- William Alden (7 August 2014). "K.K.R., Blackstone and TPG Private Equity Firms Agree to Settle Lawsuit on Collusion". NY Times. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- Officer, Micah S.; Sensoy, Berk A; Ozbas, Oguzhan (26 August 2009). "Club Deals in Leveraged Buyouts". Journal of Financial Economics. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1128404. SSRN 1128404.
- Dennis K. Berman, Henny Sender (10 October 2006). "Private-Equity Firms Face Anticompetitive Probe". Wall Street Journal.
- Limited partnership co-investment or GP club deals?. Real Deals, 2007.capdyn.com[dead link]
- SUZANNE KAPNER AND ANDREW ROSS SORKIN. "Market Place; Vivendi Is Said To Be Near Sale Of Houghton." New York Times, October 31, 2002
- "COMPANY NEWS; VIVENDI FINISHES SALE OF HOUGHTON MIFFLIN TO INVESTORS." New York Times, January 1, 2003.
- "Capital Firms Agree to Buy SunGard Data in Cash Deal." Bloomberg L.P., March 29, 2005
- SORKIN, ANDREW ROSS and FLYNN, LAURIE J. "Blackstone Alliance to Buy Chip Maker for $17.6 Billion." New York Times, September 16, 2006
- SORKIN, ANDREW ROSS. "HCA Buyout Highlights Era of Going Private." New York Times, July 25, 2006.
- MOUAWAD, JAD. "Kinder Morgan Agrees to an Improved Buyout Offer Led by Its Chairman." New York Times, August 29, 2006.
- BLOOMBERG NEWS (2006-08-04). "TECHNOLOGY; Royal Philips Sells Unit for $4.4 Billion". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- de la MERCED, MICHAEL J. "Biomet Accepts Sweetened Takeover Offer." New York Times, June 8, 2007.
- Lonkevich, Dan and Klump, Edward. KKR, Texas Pacific Will Acquire TXU for $45 Billion Bloomberg, February 26, 2007.
- Do Too Many Cooks Spoil the Takeover Deal?. New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin, 3 April 2005
- Goodbye to All That. New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin, October 10, 2004
- Measuring the Club-Deal Discount. New York Times, Dealbook, 5 May 2008
- Selling to the club:How a seller should negotiate a club deal.John D Franchini, and Elad Roisman,private equity group, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP, International Financial Law Review, 2007, milbank.com
- The decline of the club deal. The Deal, 2007