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Too much too soon?

With asset prices beaten down, private-equity firms see big opportunities to buy now. But are they calling the bottom of the market too soon?

The spokesman at private-equity firm Thomas H Lee says he's very sorry, but all the general partners are too busy to talk to Euromoney. After not having done a deal for 18 months, they're now working on two at the same time. Meanwhile, Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, speaking from his holiday home in France, is spending less time than he'd hoped by the pool this year because of lengthy telephone negotiations on an impending deal.


       
Stephen
Schwarzman

After a period of near starvation, private-equity firms are coming back to the markets with voracious appetites. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Texas Pacific Group or Clayton Dubilier Rice - all have recently completed their first acquisitions for well over a year.


Sitting on the sidelines has been frustrating for them. "Every time we held an investor conference we were saying valuations are just too high," says William Price, one of three founding partners at Texas Pacific, of his firm's 18 month-long dry spell.



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