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Lawsuit against PE firms alleges several conspired to hold down price of 2005 SunGard buyout

Tom Paine

A lawsuit filed by some shareholders and pension funds alleges that several private equity firms conspired to hold down bidding in many large leveraged buyout offering (LBO) deals.

Among the deals mentioned in the suit is the 2005 takeover of Wayne-based SunGard Data Systems by a group of seven private-equity firms for $11.4 billion. A principal of one of the firms, TPG, wrote in an email to a TPG associate that aggressive biding in a deal for SunGard would make enemies "while perhaps benefiting no one but the (company's) shareholders," according to the lawsuit.

One of the PE firms named in the suit is Bain Capital, but all of the deals involved occurred well after Mitt Romney left the firm in 1999.

You can read the portion of lawsuit related to SunGard beginning here. My guess is, though, that history will show SunGard shareholders received close to full value for their shares.

A federal judge in Boston this week ruled that the entire lawsuit, which previously had been released with many redactions particularly pertaining to emails, be released without redactions.

Fortune's Dan Primack, frequently a critic of the PE industry, had reservations about this suit. "As I wrote back when the complaint was originally filed, it's tough to argue conspiracy against so many firms on such a large number of deals, particularly when the record is clear that many of the defendants competed against each other on some of those very transactions", Primack wrote in a Fortune TermSheet article.

You can read the entire document on Scribd here.