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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leveraged Buyout Debt Is Hell For New Jersey Devils

Debt incurred by the New Jersey Devils' owners to finance their acquisition of the hockey club is now imperiling the once-proud franchise.

A report in Tuesday's New York Post will explain that the Devils, and a separate legal entity affiliated with the club which operates Prudential Center, are suffering over $180 million in debt which has come due and needs to be refinanced or given forbearance.

Notably, the report states that the Devils were barely profitable last season.  My thought: At least they were profitable on an operating basis.  However, the Devils -- like many businesses acquired using the "leveraged buyout" technique of "other people's money" -- must pay back lenders for the debt incurred to purchase the business.  

There are many businesses which are profitable from operations but whose cash flow is not sufficient to pay off the acquisition-related debt, and which end up in bankruptcy.  The Devils may be heading down that road. 

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who has substantial experience in negotiating business transactions.