Private equity guide.In 2007, the IUF published a A Workers' Guide to Private Equity, a 36 page A5 brochure, aimed at IUF affiliates and trade unions and their members around the world. Available in English, French, German, Spanish and Swedish, it remains an indispensable guide for trade unionists. Click here for more details and to order your copies.

September 12, 2014

Burger King's debt whopper is a public subsidy to fast food poverty

Thousands of fast food workers across the US again walked off the job and engaged in civil disobedience actions on September 4, pushing low-wage work and the need for an increase in the national minimum wage further up the political agenda. Shortly before, announcement of a proposed merger between US-based Burger King and Canada's Tim Hortons "fast-casual" sent both companies' shares into the stratosphere. What's the connection?

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March 14, 2014

Heinz, Mondelez and the private equity effect

Private equity dominated the February Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference, even without a formal presence - a measure of the extent to which the buyout funds' operational methods have permeated the food industry. While leveraged buyouts have not yet recovered their pre-2008 scale or volume, the big buyout houses emerged from the meltdown bigger than ever as complex financial conglomerates for whom pillaging companies is only part of the business of buying and trading everything. But private equity is not a closed universe. The funds' substantial footprint in the processed food industry, as elsewhere, has brought into the mainstream the financial engineering and aggressive cost-cutting developed through decades of leveraged buyouts.

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October 22, 2013

Volatility alert for hospitality employees: Private equity pushes REITs aside as top hotel owner

The past decade, over which private equity buyouts went from mega-boom to bust, brought about a dramatic change in the ownership structure of the hospitality industry. Ten years ago, private equity firms accounted for 12% of hotel rooms among the 10 largest hotel owners, with Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) owning 67%. Private equity firms now own 59% of rooms among the top ten, with REITs at 33%, according to a recent study by Hotel News Now.

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March 01, 2013

The more things change: Heinz and the varieties of private equity buyout

Subject to shareholder approval later this year, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian 3G Capital will acquire food giant Heinz for USD 28 billion. It is a private equity buyout with a twist - appropriate for a company which marketed the phrase "57 varieties" - but the impact on Heinz workers will be similar to what workers have long experienced in leveraged buyouts: intense pressure on employment and working conditions as investors seek to wring out the last drop of cash.

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October 11, 2012

Banks, buyout firms agree to major settlement in lawsuit charging planned bankruptcy of major retailer - a 'game changer' for private equity?

Four years after initiating legal action, creditors of the bankrupt US retailer Mervyn's have won a major settlement from the private equity firms and banks which drove it out of business by piling on debt and stripping the company of cash. Bankruptcy resulted in the elimination of 18,000 jobs. Will it change the terms of the private equity debate which has resurfaced in the US with the nomination of former Bain boss Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate?

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November 07, 2011

MF Global - canary in the (financial) coalmine?

The October 31 collapse into bankruptcy of MF Global, the US brokerage firm with investment bank appetites and ambition, was the eighth largest corporate bankruptcy in US history, behind Lehman Brothers, Enron and Washington Mutual but ahead of automaker Chrysler. As with any bankruptcy, clients are scrambling to recover their money, but large sums have gone missing.

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March 24, 2011

Kraft and Private Equity Slash and Burn at UK’s Burton’s Biscuits

Burton’s Biscuits, the UK’s second largest biscuit manufacturer (after private equity-owned United Biscuits), has announced it will close its factory in Moreton, Merseyside, with the loss of 342 jobs, despite commitments to the union at the site that production would continue through May 2012. Workers at the plant, represented by Unite the Union, are being squeezed by two converging financial forces: transnational food giant Kraft, for whom Burton’s manufactures Cadbury biscuits and chocolate products, and Burton’s private equity owners.

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January 13, 2011

EU Regulation of Private Equity: Results and Prospects

Following 18 months of negotiations, the first-ever legislative regulation of private equity through a binding Directive was adopted by the European Parliament at the close of last year and will come into effect in 2013. What’s in it for workers?

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November 09, 2010

Blackstone surfs government Hilton subsidy to demand massive concessions from hotel workers

In a move which gives new meaning to “troubled asset recovery”, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has gifted private equity giant Blackstone with USD 178 million. In early October, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced it had sold back to Blackstone USD 320 million in debt from the heavily leveraged 2007 Hilton buyout for just 142 million, booking a 56% loss. The difference between the face value of the debt – backed by Hilton properties – and the money taken in by the sale amounts to a USD 178 million public subsidy to the buyout house.

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October 20, 2010

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Calls for Measures to Limit Food Commodities Speculation

Are we witnessing a replay of the 2008 hyperinflation in the price of basic foodstuffs which pushed hundreds of millions of people already living on the margins into the ranks of the acutely hungry? In the past three months, the price of corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade has increased by 70%

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