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Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 28, 2008
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From Library Journal
- Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad. Lib., West Point, N.Y.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The most piercing and compelling narrative of a deal to date." (Boston Globe )
"Impressive qualities... delicious scenes... a cinematic yet extraordinarily careful book." (Ken Auletta, New York Daily News )
"It's hard to imagine a better story...and it's hard to imagine a better account" (Chicago Tribune )
"A superlative book...steadily builds suspense until the very end." (Los Angeles Times Book Review )
Top Customer Reviews
There are some criticisms of this book. The authors, despite their finanical backgrounds, seem to prefer story-telling to financial details. Hence, they have written a tale of personalities, with an especial interest in Ross Johnson and Henry Kravis, to the detriment of really explaining the financial and business details. The reader can learn intricate details about Johnson and the Wall Streeters preferences in cars, apartments, drinks, wives, schoos, etc. The authors seem to think we need a biographic account of all minor players, starting with their grade-school years, and the end result is 528 pages and still minimal financial explanation.
The other main criticism here, reading this now, is how dated the material has become. The authors would do well to provide some new material on how the deal has worked out. From other sources, I learned that KKR renegotiated the deal in the early 1990's (the resets were nearly toxic after all) and sold out their position entirely in 1995, more or less breaking even, depending on whose numbers you use.
The story of the final bids and the final final bids is truly riveting and meticulously researched here.Read more ›
I would like to put this book into perspective for you. 20 years ago our firm did a survey of CEOs and found that 99 percent felt that trying to improve stock price was unethical and immoral, and involved doing manipulative things.
After the takeover wars of the 1980s, most CEOs believed that improving stock price was an important task and could be done in an ethical way. There is nothing more disruptive to a company than to go through a hostile takeover, whether the bid succeeds or not. Raw greed and lust for power hold sway at such times, and many people will pay the price for having attracted the sharks into their swimming pool.
Prior to the RJR Nabisco purchase by KKR, many large companies felt safe because of their size. They were suffering from "stalled" thinking, because it was widely believed that a deal of this sort could not be financed with debt at the time the takeover occurred. That was wrong: For a price, the money is always there.
For those who have not been in these bruising ego battles, what you will not realize is that these contests are a lot like those you will remember from grade school on the playground when the teachers were not around. Bullying, threats, and naked power carry the day in a lot of situations. But because this is about ego, a lot of mistakes are made. RJR Nabisco continued to strain under mountains of debt for years, even after lots of refinancings because of the LBO.
KKR's track record looks a lot different now than it did before buying RJR Nabisco. A lot of the fever behind the LBO's is gone, for now.Read more ›
The heart of the book is the bidding battle for RJR between KKR and the Shearson Lehman Group (which had Johnson on their side); First Boston also makes a bid but I don't think their bid was ever seriously, seriously considered. The authors describe an LBO as follows, "A firm such as Kohlberg Kravis, working with a company's management, buys the company using money raised from BANKS and the PUBLIC SALE OF SECURITIES; the DEBT IS PAID DOWN WITH CASH FROM THE COMPANY'S OPERATIONS and, often, by SELLING PIECES OF THE BUSINESS" (pg 101).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book kept me wanting to read and read! I enjoyed it;
I would recommend this story to others read looP
The narrative is very interesting and detailed, it brings you back to the time of the Rock Star CEO with a jet at the door and the 12 different country club subscriptions. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Luis O.
It is amazing how much research must have gone into this account of the LBO of RJR Nabisco by KKR & Company. It was a difficult read because of the large cast of characters. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Roy Mark
Such a sense of deja vue reading this book. History does run in cycles. Entertaining read, should be required reading for anyone interested in business, politics, policy and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by SouthernTransplant