Labor unions are at war with the private equity industry. They say the big buyout firms cut U.S. jobs to boost profits at the companies they acquire. They’re lobbying Congress to increase taxes on the investment firms. They’re also highlighting the spectacular growth of these new Masters of the Universe in other ways.
Out today is Who Owns Times Square? a report showing how much prime real estate private equity firms control in Midtown Manhattan. The interactive map is quite clever. http://www.behindthebuyouts.org Click on the name of a particular business and you can find out who owns it and the size of the overall deal. Put your mouse on Burger King, for example, and learn it was bought by Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs for $1.4 billion. A group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts bought Central Parking for $900 million. Other prominent businesses under private equity control include Crunch Fitness, Sbarro’s pizza, Madame Tussauds wax museum, and Duane Reade drug stores.
In all there are 53 stores or offices of 28 different companies that have been, are, or are about to be controlled by private equity in the general vicinity of Times Square, according to the researchers. Or as USA Today put it in a related story today: “the tourist mecca dubbed the crossroads of the world, may be more accurately nicknamed Buyout Boulevard.” The Web site is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, which was also offering journalists a guided tour of buyout boulevard on Wednesday afternoon in a double-decker bus.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.