Is KKR missing the boat?

June 19, 2009

Unnerved by sagging markets, storied private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts appears to be thinking of putting off its New York listing. The original plan was to buy its Amsterdam-listed fund and parlay it into a New York-listed entity.

Now, having watched Blackstone‘s stock tumble a gut-wrenching 68 percent since it went public two years ago, we hear KKR is leaning toward buying out the Dutch fund, known as KPE, but putting off the NYSE listing.

Separating the two plans would give KKR, co-founded by “buyout king” Henry Kravis (pictured left), the option of buying its Amsterdam-listed fund without the pressure of having to list at a difficult time to go public. The company could later decide to list under a different method if it desired, Megan Davies reports.

The IPO market is so sickly that it twitches and jumps at the tiniest tech deals, and private equity has been in an equally soporific hibernation. But Mr. Kravis may want to take another look at Blackstone’s stock. Since hitting a March low under $4, it has more than doubled and hit a high above $14 in May.

Imagine the jolt the IPO market would get from a big, juicy KKR listing. Probably just a shade less dramatic than the boost to the egos at KKR if the firm was credited with engineering the pivot point of the financial markets recovery.

The rise in Blackstone shares since March could signal strong appetite for private equity stock, which is still a somewhat rare commodity and may command a reasonable premium. It may also imply investors see green shoots rising for leverage from the muck of markets soaked with liquidity. Then again, it could just be the sound of a dead cat bouncing down Wall Street.

Christopher Kaufman; DealZone Editor

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