Borrow Cheap, Buy High? The Determinants of Leverage and Pricing in Buyouts

Ulf Axelson, Tim Jenkinson, Per Strömberg, Michael S. Weisbach

NBER Working Paper No. 15952
Issued in April 2010
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance

This paper provides an empirical analysis of the financial structure of large buyouts. We collect detailed information on the financing of 1157 worldwide private equity deals from 1980 to 2008. Buyout leverage is cross-sectionally unrelated to the leverage of matched public firms, and is largely driven by factors other than what explains leverage in public firms. In particular, the economy-wide cost of borrowing is the main driver of both the quantity and the composition of debt in these buyouts. Credit conditions also have a strong effect on prices paid in buyouts, even after controlling for prices of equivalent public market companies. Finally, the use of high leverage in transactions negatively affects fund performance, controlling for fund vintage and other relevant characteristics. The results are consistent with the view that the availability of financing impacts booms and busts in the private equity market, and that agency problems between private equity funds and their investors can affect buyout capital structures.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15952

Published: Ulf Axelson & Tim Jenkinson & Per Strömberg & Michael S. Weisbach, 2013. "Borrow Cheap, Buy High? The Determinants of Leverage and Pricing in Buyouts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(6), pages 2223-2267, December. citation courtesy of

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