Thomas H Lee dismissed from collusion lawsuit

Seven mega-firms remain on trial in the long-running US case.

Thomas H Lee Partners has won court dismissal from a long-running lawsuit accusing marquee private equity firms of having agreed not to outbid one another on announced buyout deals. 

The remaining defendants in the case are Bain Capital Partners, The Blackstone Group, TPG, Silver Lake Partners, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the private equity arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Last week, US district judge Edward Harrington said he had been wrong to rule earlier that email correspondence between THL and the remaining seven defendants was evidence of collusion in the attempted takeover of hotel and casino chain Harrah's and food services company Aramark.

Harrington wrote that he now believes THL “acted independently” when submitting takeover bids. A spokesperson for THL declined to comment. 

In July, Providence Equity Partners and Apollo Global Management were also dismissed from the case. A judge ruled that evidence was lacking that Providence and Apollo had colluded with other private equity firms to rig bids and drive down competition for deals. “Apollo acted independently in ‘standing down,’” according to the opinion issued. “…the evidence of [Providence’s] involvement in other transactions is insufficient to connect it to the overarching conspiracy,” Harrington wrote. 

The suit was filed in December 2007 by individual shareholders in companies that were acquired by the private equity firms, like Freescale Semiconductor. 

See related articles to the right for more detailed coverage of the case.