Monday, April 27, 2009

Barbarians? On Wall Street?

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been on a tear reading about smart people who do stupid things with other peoples' money, so I downloaded this classic to the Kindle and read it very quickly. RJR/Nabisco's President Ross Johnson was obsessed with his company's undervalued stock and with living the high life, and he hit on the idea of arranging a leveraged buyout. He evidently figured that a lowball bid would let him continue running the company as he saw fit. After he announced the idea to RJR's board, all hell broke loose. Johnson's team ended up losing out to Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts--in part because the company's board wanted to be rid of Johnson--and Johnson pretty much had run out of enthusiasm for the deal anyway (paying $112/share would mean a lot more cutting back than $75/share would). This book reads like a novel, with egos, ulterior motives, deceipt, grudges, broken friendships, and greed galore. The final sentence of the new edition of the book sums it up nicely: "you couldn't make this stuff up."

View all my reviews.

No comments: