Black’s Apollo ‘Selling Everything’ as Prices Have Risen

Leon Black, chief executive officer of buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO), said prices for traditional buyouts have risen so much that it’s a good time to sell.

“We think it’s a fabulous environment to be selling,” Black said today during a panel discussion at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles, adding that Apollo has sold about $13 billion in assets in the last 15 months. “We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down, and if we’re not selling, we’re refinancing.”

U.S. equity markets have more than doubled from their 2009 lows, helping push up average prices for leveraged buyouts to nine times earnings, Black said. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose to a record today as consumer confidence offset an unexpected drop in business activity and investors weighed earnings reports.

Black’s comments were echoed by buyout executives including Scott Sperling, co-president of Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, and Jonathan Sokoloff, managing partner at Leonard Green & Partners LP.

“It has become more difficult to find transactions priced at levels we’d like,” Sperling said on the same panel.

“We’re having trouble deploying capital at these price levels,” Sokoloff said. It’s “time to take a pause.”

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