A Genteel Style of Buyouts
The 30 partners at Madison Dearborn negotiate leveraged buyouts as smart as anyone's. They're just so much nicer about it. Chicago's Madison Dearborn Partners—among the nation's largest private equity firms—has delivered average returns of 22% to investors over its 15-year run. Sure, its portfolio companies, like any taken private in a leveraged buyout, are laden with boatloads of debt. But at Madison Dearborn, the deals usually are bloodless; the partnership invests only in companies where it can keep incumbent management. It rarely extracts special dividends and has even cut fees to investors when the partners determined performance was lagging.
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