Private Equity's White-Knuckle Deal

With Wall Street watching closely, Clayton Dubilier salvaged the Home Depot buyoutand showed how other big deals in the works can go forward

What does a buyout baron do when the business climate changes dramatically between the announcement of a major deal and the closing? It's a question that has given many of the world's most successful private equity firms, and the big investment banks that lend them the money, insomnia in recent weeks. In late August came the answer when a deal that had been on the verge of death was saved at the last minute. The twists and turns in the negotiations shed light on how more than $300 billion worth of pending buyouts can be salvaged—and offered a glimpse into what the future holds for the $1 trillion private equity industry.

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