If ever there was a cautionary tale it is the story of Freescale. Private equity firm Blackstone bought Freescale in 2006 for $17.6 billion.
Freescale’s sales that year were $6.36 billion with EBITDA earnings of $1.63 billion.
Last year’s sales were $4.4 billion for a $1.05 billion loss.
Blackstone defrayed some of the $17.6 billion purchase price by selling $9.4 billion worth of bonds, secured on Freescale’s assets.
The bond sale left Freescale with annual interest payments of $800 million.
Freescale has repaid some of the debt, but still has $7.62 billion outstanding, on which it had to pay, last year, interest of $537 million.
Now Freescale has filed for an IPO in which it could raise $1.15 billion. The company says the proceeds will be used to repay some of the debt, of which $764 million matures next year.
Meanwhile Blackstone is being sued in a class action for, allegedly, not revealing the full extent of its possible exposure to loss from its interest in Freescale when Blackstone filed for its own IPO in 2007.
What a mess. Some say: ‘This is capitalism’.
Many prefer to see capitalism as the old HP of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett - a company making great things with corporate tradition of decent behaviour and long-term focus.
Compared to the HP way, the private equity way is a perversion.