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Wall Street’s Buyout Titans Have Been Sitting Out The Credit Boom

  • Loan pipeline falls to under $10 billion as backlog clears
  • Private-equity firms just starting to look at new deals again
The Citigroup Inc. headquarters stands in New York.

The Citigroup Inc. headquarters stands in New York.

Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Amid one of the greatest credit booms ever, a key player in the financial world has been conspicuously absent. Private equity firms that would usually jump at the chance to go on a debt-fueled buying spree are only just tip-toeing back to the market.

In theory, business should be flourishing. Borrowing rates are close to record lows and investors are gorging on everything from rescue loans to shareholder payouts due in large part to historic support from the Federal Reserve. Banks are also ready to open the checkbooks after selling billions of dollars of debt for buyouts and acquisitions they feared they’d be stuck with as credit markets froze in March.