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BANKING

Playing for high stakes

It's boom time in Europe's private-equity business. But what if your client is so far behind the times that the term leveraged buy-out leaves a blank look on his face and he thinks high-yield bonds are a reference to 007's success rate with the ladies?

If you don't fancy the usual route of long meetings to explain the first principales of shareholder value, just give your client a set of dice, some counters and a version of BZW Private Equities' latest product. The Barclay's Group team ­ which has yet to change its name after the fire sale of the rest of BZW ­ has produced a handy snakes-and-ladders board game to make those buy-ins and buy-outs more fun.

At first it offers the player a few small successes: the widow of your recently deceased employer sells her share in the business to you; you advance 18 places after meeting a "good venture capitalist who really understands your business" (but who later seems unable to syndicate the deal).

But the game also deals with the hardships of life: your spouse is unhappy as the demands of the deal take up all your time; due-diligence results are unsatisfactory; there are squabbles among the management over who owns and does what in the new business.

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