Carlyle Group to pay $115 mln to settle collusion suit: source

  • Last holdout among defendants
  • Total settlement figure reaches $590.5 million
  • Deals date to pre-crisis buyout boom

Carlyle Group was the only private equity firm among those still facing trial not to have settled. It brings the total amount buyout firms have agreed to pay to settle the leveraged buyout collusion charges to $590.5 million, sister news service Reuters reported.

Like its peers, Carlyle Group did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, the person said, asking not to be identified ahead of any official announcement.

Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group declined to comment.

The money will go to some shareholders of companies that were acquisition targets for private equity during the leveraged buyout boom that predated the 2008 financial crisis.

In a December 2007 lawsuit, private equity firms were accused of conspiring to drive down takeover prices and reduce competition by following “club rules,” often teaming up on buyouts and providing quid pro quos to influence each other’s behavior.

The lawsuit covers eight buyouts in which the firms allegedly agreed not to “jump,” or outbid, each other after buyouts were announced.

Carlyle Group was one of 11 private equity firms originally sued. Earlier this month, Blackstone Group LPKKR & Co LP and TPG Capital LP disclosed in a court filing they agreed to pay $325 million to settle the lawsuit.

Last month, Silver Lake Partners LP settled with the plaintiffs for $29.5 million. In June, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Bain Capital Partners LLC settled for $67 million and $54 million, respectively.

U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston will consider preliminary approval of the accords at a Sept. 4 hearing. Carlyle Group’s challenge to the class action status of the lawsuit had been scheduled to be heard on the same date.

Apollo Global Management LLCProvidence Equity Partners IncJPMorgan Chase & Co and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP all won bids to be dismissed as defendants in the case.

In one case, soon after a KKR-led group in July 2006 agreed to buy hospital chain HCA Inc, a Blackstone executive allegedly wrote that the $32.1 billion price “represents good value and is a shame we let KKR get away with highway robbery.”

In another case, after a Blackstone-led group in September 2006 beat out KKR to buy Freescale Semiconductor Ltd for $17.5 billion, Blackstone President Hamilton James emailed KKR co-founder George Roberts that he would “much rather” work together, and that “in opposition we can cost each other a lot of money.”

Greg Roumeliotis is a journalist for sister news service Reuters.