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The New Financial Capitalists: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Creation of Corporate Value Hardcover – October 13, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0521642606 ISBN-10: 0521642604 Edition: First edition (stated)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First edition (stated) edition (October 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521642604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521642606
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., universally known as KKR, pioneered the leveraged buyout and participated in some of the most celebrated takeover fights of the 1980s. Both authors have worked for KKR as consultants since 1994, and have the company's blessing for this corporate biography. Throughout, the book gives a selective but solid history of KKR deals, showing the full 20-year sweep of the firm rather than concentrating on the atypical battles of the late 1980s. While the authors had some access to financial results and other in-house documents, as well as to personnel, their presentation of the data and interviews with KKR staff often reads like bland restatement of public positions, as in discussions of KKR's much criticized takeover of Safeway, or of Peter Storer's abrupt departure after KKR bought out Storer Communications. (It "seems" he "left unexpectedly for personal reasons.") We are spared information about the fates of associates of KKR who ended up in bankruptcy (such as Executive Life, the first life insurance bankruptcy in the U.S. since the Depression), scandal or jail ("Chainsaw Al" Dunlop and Michael Milkin, respectively). Opponents of KKR and leveraged buyouts are often mentioned only to be dismissed without refutation. Not specific enough for professionals, dramatic enough for casual readers or balanced enough for people in between, it is hard to imagine an audience for this book.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) is synonymous with the practice of the leveraged buyout (LBO), and KKR has inarguably changed the face of business. Four years ago, it contracted Baker and Smith to document the histories of its investments so that newer members of the firm would have more than oral tradition to guide them. Smith is a founding partner of the Winthrop Group, a company that compiles corporate histories. Baker is an economist and business professor at Harvard Business School. In completing their project, they discovered that much of their research had potential interest to a much wider audience, and they convinced Henry Kravis and George Roberts to agree to this book. The firm saw a benefit in demonstrating that the buyout was an effective financial technique and incentive system. The authors make the case that the way a company is financed affects the way it is managed. They look at the history of the LBO and analyze its effectiveness as a tool for improving performance. David Rouse

Customer Reviews

Highly detailed, objective and entertaining account of KKR's history.
Lazaro campos
Very interesting and professionally written with significant technical aspects.
Fabio L. Sattin (fabio.sattin@privateequitypartners.com)
I finished this book a year ago, and have referred to it numerous times since.
H.C. Joiner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By David K. W. Ma on May 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking at what I have written, you must be considering buying this book. So I guess it's good for me to tell you what this book really is and where its strength lies. This book isn't a gossipy account of interesting people; it isn't (only) an account of what KKR did. It's certainly not a moral debate of whether Henry Kravis is a 'Barbarian'. My opinion is that this is a book which seriously attempts to tell us what leverage buyout really is; and the mentioning of KKR, its deals, its organizational strucuture etc, merely (in a sense) serve as illustrative examples. In other words, I think despite the fact that the authors have very meticulous account of things about KKR, they have something else in mind: the 'leverage buyout story' instead of 'the KKR story'. This is the main difference between this book and others belonging to the same topic. So if you are serious about learning something about leverage buyouts, read on.
The choice of topics and the quality of exposition of the book is truly unmatched by practically any business books I have ever read. That's the main reason behind the five stars. The analysis throughout, especially the middle chapters, is not yet, but close to academic. But wait, before destroying the online sales of the book by using the word 'academic', I must add that the usual attachment of being boring is absolutely absent. It is so well-written and you'll learn so much from the book that chapter 2 alone (or chp 3 or 4) is worth more than the price.
Finally, to give you more information, this is not a book of pathbreaking insights. But who cares? Every new business book claims itself to be a revolution: the 'everything you previously know about xxx is wrong' kind of slogan.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Fred on May 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding academic treatment of the investments made by KKR, all of which were some kind of leveraged buy-out. The authors focus their attention on the transactions themselves, not the way they were viewed by society or on the people that put them together - in this regard the book is a rare gem. It treats the period up to 1990 in some depth, with some very interesting case studies that show pretty good financial detail with outstanding qualitative descriptions of the transactions that were put together. As you walk through the various case studies, you are able to sit alongside with the KKR team and watch as the LBO goes from an unusual financial instrument to a mainstream product that is widely accepted in the marketplace. While growing acceptance of financial products is an established facet of Wall Street, to follow this evolution through the work of a single firm really is quite interesting. The manner in which the complexity, leverage and size of the transactions grow is laid out in plain English, making this a fascinating read.
Only Chapter 5 "KKR as an Institutional Form" focused on the firm itself, and even this treatment was not nearly as obsequious as many other financial books (most notably "Goldman Sachs: the Culture of Success" by Endlich). Mr. Baker and Mr. Smith take a very level-headed approach and document the growth of the firm in a straight-forward manner, although they do inject a good deal of `positivity' to their view, i.e. the revolutionary introduction of Monday Morning Meeting's at KKR in the 1990's (this is commonplace at most banks).
I particularly enjoyed the second chapter "Recasting the Role of Debt" which talks about some of the earlier transactions that KKR did in some depth.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This revealing book covers a highly charged and controversial period of American investment history. George P. Baker and George David Smith study the emergence of the investment house Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts (KKR), and follow it during the decade KKR ruled the world of leveraged buyouts. The authors begin with the early days when the partners worked together at Bear Stearns. They track the men as they build their own firm and create their own success. In clear, straightforward language, the book presents KKR's intentions and the economics of leveraged buyouts (LBOs). It discusses KKR's role in structuring and managing the deals. We [...] recommend this book as a must read for anyone interested in LBOs or the history of KKR. Executives at all levels will find the KKR saga interesting and useful.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Fabio L. Sattin (fabio.sattin@privateequitypartners.com) on October 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Very interesting and professionally written with significant technical aspects. Extremely useful to understand LBO's rationale and their key success factors.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Adam VINE VOICE on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're relatively new to the subject and want a good primer/introduction to LBOs, as well as some background history on the leveraged buyout and on KKR, this is a good read. It's reasonably quick and easy to read without being too dumbed down. I think that, among others, one group that would really benefit from reading this book are college students (or even MBA students) who are interested in eventually working in private equity but who don't currently know much about it.

As a brief summary, this book includes:

1) A discussion of the rationale for leveraged buyouts - from the standpoints of both the economics (to the buyer) and corporate governance (LBOs as one solution to the classic principal-agent problem)

2) A history of KKR and of the leveraged buyout in general. It goes back to the founding of KKR and to very early LBOs.

3) A discussion and brief analysis of a number of real world LBOs - both successful and failed. This is probably the most useful part of the book, as it gives you some feel as to the factors that can lead to a successful (or failed) LBO and helps you learn from some of the mistakes of the past.

I was interested in the subject from the perspective of an equity analyst interested in identifying potential LBO targets. The book, naturally, doesn't provide a framework for identifying LBO targets (nor did I expect it to), but it was a very good introduction/primer on the subject that, when combined with other reading and research, helped me develop my own framework for identifying potential LBO candidates.
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The New Financial Capitalists: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Creation of Corporate Value
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