The role of private equity group reputation in LBO financing
This paper investigates whether the reputation of acquiring private equity groups (PEGs) is related to the financing structure of leveraged buyouts (LBOs). Using a sample of 180 public-to-private LBOs in the US between January 1, 1997 and August 15, 2007, we find that reputable PEGs are more active in the LBO market when credit risk spreads are low and lending standards in the credit markets are lax. We also find that reputable PEGs pay narrower bank and institutional loan spreads, have longer loan maturities, and rely more on institutional loans. In addition, while we find that PEG reputation is positively related to buyout leverage (i.e., LBO debt divided by pre-LBO earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITDA) of the target), and leverage is significantly positively related to buyout pricing, we do not find any direct relation between PEG reputation and buyout valuations. The evidence suggests that PEG reputation is related to LBO financing structure not only because reputable PEGs are more likely to take advantage of market timing in credit markets and but also because PEG reputation reduces agency costs of LBO debt.
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