PE firms eliminate jobs when they complete billion dollar deals - but you won't believe what happens next

2 months ago by Jon Marino in Facts, News, Trends

If there's anything private equity executives hate, it's inefficiency. That, and paying the full corporate tax on exits. 

If the trend holds, it means that the latest PE mega-deal will soon result in either job cuts or efficiencies through the elimination of open positions. 

Zayo Group ($NYSE:ZAYO), the Colorado-based communications infrastructure company, sold itself to a pair of private equity investors in a deal worth more than $14 billion. For now, it seems that Zayo's job postings are hovering around multi-year highs, but it is likely this will change soon. 

For the last 30-plus years, the so-called barbarians at the gate have gotten a reputation for ruthless cost-cutting and sniffing out efficiencies and savings at everyone else's expense but their own. But even this is changing - as a recent Forbes profile of the senior statesmen of the private equity industry, Henry Kravis and George Roberts, explained.

Many private equity firms are acting more like growth investors than undertakers - they are buying out companies, identifying opportunities, adding workers - and, brace yourself for this next one - giving equity to their rank-and-file to create incentives for outperformers. This, too, is evident in past mega-LBOs, judging by our data. 

JAB Holdings builds up jobs at growing Keurig after post-deal cuts

Keurig ($NYSE:KDP) has been building itself out under privately-run German investor JAB Holdings since it was acquired in 2015. In 2018, Keurig added Dr. Pepper Snapple in a deal worth nearly $19 billion. Somewhat predictably, at the time the deal closed (early July 2018), open jobs fell nearly 43% from 737 just a few weeks before the deal completed, to 421 the day after the deal was finalized

However, by early 2019, the merged entities saw jobs posted rebound, according to our data - listing nearly 700 open roles at the start of the new year. 

Thomson Reuters trimmed job postings before selling most of itself to Blackstone

The same goes for Blackstone's ($NYSE:BX) $20 billion deal to the majority of Thomson Reuters' Financial & Risk unit and re-brand it Refinitiv. Our data shows that, prior to the deal's completion (October 2018), Thomson Reuters listed 867 open positions - but after the sale finalized this fell nearly 28% to 627. 

The buyout of the Zayo Group announced Wednesday May 8 will not be complete until early 2020, the company said in a statement. But between now and then, it is safe to expect some of the company's job postings will be eliminated. And, if their private backers are smart, at least, it's also safe to say that many of the jobs will reappear, in some form, later in the year. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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