Who Benefits from the Leverage in LBOs?
43 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011 Last revised: 7 Mar 2011
Date Written: February 28, 2011
Tax savings associated with increased levels of debt are often thought to be an important source of returns for private equity funds conducting leveraged buyouts (LBOs). However, as leverage is available to all bidders, the vendors may appropriate any benefits in the form of the takeover premium. For the 100 largest U.S. public-to-private LBOs since 2003, we estimate the size of the additional tax benefits available to private equity purchasers. We find a strong cross-sectional relationship between tax savings and the size of takeover premia; and on average the latter are around twice the size of the former. Consequently, the tax savings from increasing financial leverage essentially accrue to the previous shareholders rather than the private equity fund that conducts the LBO. It is, therefore, unlikely that (ex ante predictable) tax savings are an important source of returns for private equity funds. Furthermore, policy proposals that aim to restrict leverage or the tax-deductibility of debt are likely to have their impact mainly on existing owners of companies.
Keywords: Leveraged Buyouts, Taxes, Private Equity, Takeover Premium
JEL Classification: G34, H2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation