What Is an LBO (Leveraged Buyout)?

What Is an LBO (Leveraged Buyout)?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A Leveraged Buyout (LBO) is a financial transaction where a company is acquired using a significant amount of borrowed money in order to meet the cost of acquisition. The assets of the company being acquired usually serve as collateral for the loans. The rationale is that the company’s cash flow will be sufficient to meet both the new debt expenses and the business operational costs.

Related Questions

1. Why are LBOs Often Used in Private Equity Transactions?

Private equity firms often use LBOs in their transactions because they allow them to achieve high rates of return while putting up a small amount of their own money. By leveraging the company’s assets and cash flow to finance the majority of the acquisition cost, they can gain control of the company with less capital and thus increase their potential return on investment.

2. What Risks are Associated with Leveraged Buyouts?

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Despite the potential high returns, LBOs come with notable risks. These include the risk that the acquired company’s cash flow will not be sufficient to service the debt, leading to financial distress, bankruptcy, or even total failure. There is also the risk that the company’s value will not increase significantly to ensure a profitable sale.

3. What is a Management Buyout (MBO)?

A Management Buyout (MBO) is a type of LBO where the company’s existing management purchases the company. This often happens when a company owner wishes to retire or when parent companies want to sell off a subsidiary to focus on their core business.

4. What Role Does Due Diligence Play in an LBO?

Due diligence is a critical part of any LBO. This process involves thoroughly examining the target company’s financials, operations, and market position to ensure that the company is a good investment. It helps in determining whether the company’s cash flow will be sufficient to service the new debt and if there are any potential risks or issues that could affect the investment’s success.

5. Can Small Businesses Be the Target of an LBO?

Yes, small businesses can be targets of leveraged buyouts. In fact, LBOs can be beneficial for small business owners who wish to sell their business but still want it to thrive under new ownership. The key factor is whether the firm’s earnings are solid and reliable enough to make loan payments.