Comments from readers on our stories about Morrisons and its unwanted takeover approach are overwhelmingly negative. The great majority think that Clayton Dubilier & Rice, the private equity house, would damage the supermarkets group, sack thousands, reduce service levels, pull their favourite food lines, load up the company with unaffordable debt or “asset strip” it in some other way. Truly, private equity in this country has a terrible image problem.
But is that verdict fair? Not really. The idea that private equity houses have any interest in damaging the assets they own is daft. They want to improve their value and sell them on for a profit in three, five or seven years’ time. That generally means keeping customers and employees happy and making sure that the business has good prospects so that it can be floated or sold on.
Ah, but it’s not as simple as that, the critics argue. Private equity-owned business are quietly starved of investment, have costs cut to the bone and are leveraged up in a way that makes them vulnerable to any setback. The trick, it is claimed, is to disguise the damage done and to sell on before it becomes apparent.
Read more/Source: The Times
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