The difference between a "friend" and a private equity firm who helps you leverage a big deal...

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 18 April 2007

The head of a very large European mobile group, smugly sitting on around three billion dollars of new "leveraged" debt, may be about to find out why his good friends in private equity have been helping him stick his neck out that far.

The noose, when it tightens, will come in the form of rather tough news about his holdings in another mobile group, with Chinese management.

Despite several well-sourced reports in NewsWireless about a change in ownership in this group, our capitalist has proceeded on the assumption that his shares are worth the "market value" of the group.

I gather that the real value will become apparent shortly.

Straws in the wind: three (by coincidence) senior jobs in the group, for which "executive search contracts" were being conducted, have been cancelled. This means that implications of the change in ownership have finally percolated through to HR. Nobody talks to HR - nobody in finance does, anyway! - so our highly-leveraged plutocrat will probably find out how precarious his position is for a few weeks.

When he does, his power to cause delays and upset will be nil. He'll be out on the end of the plank, and rocking the boat will be the last thing on his mind... especially given the number of crocodiles in the water where he lives.

But I'm told he's in denial (ho, ho) about that, too.

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