Thomas H Lee Partners is the latest private equity firm accused of colluding to ensure buyout bargains to have the US lawsuit against it dropped.
US District Judge Edward Harrison, pictured, who has already scrapped cases against Providence Equity Partners and Apollo Global Management, said he had “erred” in his ruling last month that e-mail evidence suggested TH Lee’s link to the scandal, Reuters reported.
But the federal judge has now reversed that opinion after concluding the emails, which concern the takeovers of casino operator Harrah’s and food services business Aramark, left open the possibility TH Lee acted independently in its decision making.
Harrington has rejected rejected dismissals from Bain Capital, Blackstone, Carlyle, Goldman Sachs’ PE arm, KKR, Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital Management in the case.
Claims of an overarching conspiracy between the players – some of the world’s largest private equity firms – were rejected by Harrington in March, although individual claims of collusion were allowed to continue.
But he said investors were free to pursue claims of “jumping” in which firms agreed not to outbid each other once news of agreed deals was announced.
The firms were sued by shareholders in 27 companies who claim they lost out on more than $1bn due to anti-competitive action during takeovers made at the height of the buyout boom between 2003 and 2007.
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