Which Private Equity Deal Fails Next: Tribune, Acxiom, Penn Gaming?

Now that Goldman Sachs (GS) and KKR have walked away from Harman (HAR), the question is which private equity deal will fail next.

Here is a short list of the deals that 24/7 Wall St. still think could be in trouble. These deals could be killed or, at least, be renegotiated to a lower price.

Sallie Mae (SLM), which originates and holds student loans is an obvious candidate. Against an offer price of $60, the shares now trade at $48. The New York Times has written that private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. plans to seek a lower price. Congress has sent the President a bill which could cut about $20 billion in government subsidies to banks that make student loans, according to the AP. Flowers and its banks could cansider that a “material adverse effect.”

Acxiom (ACXM) The database management company has an offer from Silver Lake and ValueAct Capital in which the firms would pay Acxiom shareholders $27.10 a share to take the company private. The shares trade at $22. The company announced an 88% decrease in income from operations last quarter. Earlier this month, the company cut 265 people.

PHH (PHH) Blackstone (BX) said it is working with investment banks in an effort to seek more debt funding for the buyout. But, the deal is in trouble since banks sent revised terms for the takeover. The stock is trading at under $25. When the deal was announced, it hit $31.52.

The Tribune Company (TRB) Sam Zell, the leader of this buy-out, keeps insisting that the deal will close. But, the company’s revenue keeps falling and was off over 5% in August. The buyout, for $8.2 billion, will leave the company awash in debt, even though it is selling non-core assets like the Chicago Cubs to improve the balance sheet. The shares trade at $28, after hitting $34.28 when the purchase plan was announced.

Myers (MYE)  The rubber and plastic manufacturer recently said its $1.1 billion acquisition by a private equity arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs will likely be delayed until the fourth quarter. Income from operations dropped in the June quarter from $7.1 million last year to $2.5 million in 2007. Shares trade at $19.75 against a post-deal announcement high of $22.73.

Reddy Ice (FRZ) Shares now trading at $26.50 after hitting $32.31 on buyout news. The AP wrote that Reddy Ice planned $1.1 billion buyout by GSO Capital Partners LP encountered turbulence, when Morgan Stanley objected to amendments to the deal saying they violated conditions of the bank’s loans.The Fool wrote that the company’s recent weak results, coupled with the tightening credit markets, led GSO to renegotiate parts of the transaction already.

Penn National Gaming (PENN) The racetrack and casino operator agreed in June to a $67-a-share buyout by Fortress. The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out that shares of several buyout targets are also reflecting an increased degree of caution, including Penn. Net income and EPS at the company both fell in the June quarter. With the stock at $59, investors are not indicating much confidence in an offer that is $8 higher.

United Rental (URI) The equipment rental company agreed to to sell itself to affiliates of private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for $4 billion. But, the SEC is investigating the company over accounting issues. Operating income rose 12% in the June quarter, but the SEC issue could allow Cerberus a way out. Shares trade at $31.45 against a post buy-out high of $35.56.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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