Stories by John J Sviokla

The New Barbarians

Back in the early 1980s, leveraged buyout (LBO) firms, armed with money from speculative investors, made fortunes buying companies, chopping them up and selling off the pieces. In 1988, LBO firm Hyde Park Holdings acquired High Voltage Engineering, a Wakefield, Mass.-based manufacturer of diversified energy controls, and sold off its divisions, liquidated its real estate and fired over a third of its workforce. Meanwhile, the LBO investors saw none of the spilled guts but plenty of the glory-returns on junk-bond investments often averaged 20 per cent yearly.