Judge Okays Civil Suit Against PE Giants

Jul 23 2013 | 6:35am ET

A federal judge has ruled there is enough evidence for a long-running civil suit against a number of the country's biggest private equity firms to proceed.

U.S. Senior District Judge Edward F. Harrington, of Boston’s federal court, allowed the case to continue against a who's who of private equity firms including KKR, Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, Carlyle Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs' p.e. arm. At the same time, the judge released two other firms—Apollo Global Management and Providence Equity Partners—from the lawsuit.

The suit alleges the p.e. firms colluded to keep down prices paid for companies during the buyout boom of the past decade. It was brought by disgruntled investors who sold shares to the buyout firms and who now contend those firms had agreements not to compete with each other on certain deals.

A spokeswoman for KKR & Co. told the Wall Street Journal: “We are disappointed by the court’s decision, and we will continue to vigorously fight the plaintiff’s spurious claims.”

The case may now proceed to trial, although it is not yet known whether it will do so as a class action suit, something the plaintiffs will seek.

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