Leveraged Buyout

A leveraged buyout (LBO) is an acquisition (usually of a company but it can also be single assets like a real estate) where the purchase price is financed through a combination of equity and debt and in which the cash flows or assets of the target are used to secure and repay the debt. As the debt usually has a lower cost of capital than the equity, the returns on the equity increase with increasing debt. The debt thus effectively serves as a lever to increase returns which explain the origin of the term LBO.

LBOs are a very common occurrence in today's M&A environment. The term LBO is usually employed when a financial sponsor acquires a company. However, many corporate transactions are part-funded by bank debt, thus effectively also representing an LBO. LBOs can have many different forms such as Management Buy-out (MBO), Management Buy-in (MBI), secondary buyout and tertiary buyout among others and can occur in growth situations, restructuring situations and insolvencies just like in companies with stable performance. LBOs mostly occur in private companies, but can also be employed with public companies (in a so called PtP transaction, Public to Private).

As financial sponsors increase their returns by employing a very high leverage (i.e., a high ratio of debt to equity), they have an incentive to employ as much debt as possible to finance an acquisition. This has in many cases led to situations, in which companies were "overlevered", meaning that they did not generate sufficient cash flows to service their debt, which in turn led to insolvency or to debt-to-equity swaps in which the equity owners lose control over the business and the debt providers assume the equity.

Read more about Leveraged BuyoutCharacteristics, History, Management Buyouts, Secondary and Tertiary Buyouts, Failures, Popular References

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