How Formica Got Burned Out By Buyouts

Wall Street doesn't talk about the dark side of debt-financed takeovers. Here's why

If Formica Corp. were a human being, it would be flat on the couch in intensive therapy. Formica, a world leader in laminated countertops, is what you might call a corporate orphan looking desperately for a home. Over the past 14 years, Formica has been the neglected, even abused, stepchild of two conglomerate parents. It has endured three leveraged buyouts. It has weathered a seemingly endless array of owners and board members, not to mention a plethora of corporate strategies and restructurings. Its latest LBO was just last year. On Feb. 17, Formica tapped the public markets for a second time, selling $215 million of junk debt.

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