The Popular Game Of Going Private

More and more firms are buying out stockholders

In the world of high finance, where billion-dollar deals can be struck between cocktails and dessert, the hottest play these days is a once obscure transaction known as the leveraged buyout. In such operations, corporate officers are turning publicly held firms into private businesses that are free from the demands of short-term investors and the unwanted attention of corporate raiders. In the process many of them are making vast profits for shareholders and themselves.

All that is needed to play this lucrative game is mountains of borrowed money--or leverage, in financial jargon--which lenders seem eager to provide. A record $10.8 billion...

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