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The Rumored KKR IPO Is Rumored To Be Kaput

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An initial public offering has been ruled out by Kohlbeg Kravis & Roberts, sources tell DealBreaker. “KKR is next” was one of the most persistent rumors that arose in the wake of news that Blackstone would offer $4 billion of limited partnership equity to the public was. There were published reports claiming that bankers at Goldman Sachs were already at work on putting together an IPO for KKR—and those might have been correct. Perhaps there were bankers pitching an IPO to KKR. Perhaps the venerable private equity titan had even encouraged the bankers. But now we’re told that the IPO is off. Indefinitely. Permanently. For now.
Word from CNBC’s Charlie Gasparino that Goldman and JP Morgan were working on an IPO for Apollo Management, and subsequent stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, quickly helped Apollo replace KKR in Wall Street afterhours chatter and on the pages of the newspapers. Part of what had been feeding the KKR rumors was the feeling that Goldman—which was notably absent from the list of advisers to Blackstone for its IPO—must be working on something for a Blackstone competitors. How else had one of the premier banks been shut out of one of the most talked about deals? It seemed the door was held open for nearly everyone else on Wall Street.
Apollo fit just as well as KKR for this theory, and reports and rumors of its impending IPO private placement have quickly replaced those pointing to KKR. Even denials by people “close to Apollo”—as DealBook reported—and by people who maybe know some other people who are familiar with things that sometimes happen at Apollo—as the Wall Street Journalreported—haven’t quenched the thirst for this story. This morning's WSJ report only served to confirm that it was Apollo and not KKR whose deal was keeping Goldman occupied during the rush of other banks into the arms of Blackstone's IPO.
But we came not to discuss the history and origins of the KKR rumor but to lay it to rest. Our sources—lets call them, “people familiar with KKR’s plans”—tell us the KKR has decided to stay out of the IPO game for the time being. The reasons we’ve heard are purely speculative: it didn’t like the comparatives with Blackstone, it didn’t like the attention Blackstone and its tax treatment were getting, it didn’t think the timing was right, it didn’t think the price would be good enough to justify the headaches of added public scrutiny, the KKR-ers aren’t pushing for freely transferable equity stakes like the ‘Stoners are. Take your pick or invent your own.