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A business I used to work for has some experience with one of those "private equity" firms.  My limited experience is that these investment companies try to get a return for their investors as quickly as possible, they don't have the patience to wait for a return from things like developing trade.  The typical course of action I've seen is to sell off the assets (the equity) of the entities they purchase  to get an immediate capital realization.  It doesn't bode well for the industries they invest in.  The one of the firms that I'm familiar with invested in the paper industry and the net result is mill closures, loss of jobs and plants being sold for scrap.

Boy, I sure hope that there is no takeover at KCS.

Here's what it's like:

We went through that at Santa Fe right after the failed SPSF merger.  Santa Fe got caught looking.  We had merged all the non-railroad assets and so were holding oil fields, gold mines, pipelines and -- the real prizes -- premier real estate in downtown San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  An outfit called the Henley Group mounted a takeover attempt, and Santa Fe was forced to spin off the non-railroad assets after finding a white knight to buy enough of the Company to dissuade Henley Group.  The Company had to borrow a large amount of money and buy our way out from under our "rescuers".  But we did it, and paid off the loan early.

Now the bad part:  Santa Fe was a railroad with a great franchise, which had always been fat in its wallet, and which did a great job of running fast trains.  But, it did not have a ruthless top management and had a lot of cash, so it was a perfect target, considering its assets.  Robert Krebs ascended to the top management job, then led the railroad out of a big jam.  I'm always grateful for his leadership at a time when it looked pretty bleak for Santa Fe Railway.

I took a 12% pay cut at the exact time the first of our 6 children started college; the office stenographer was replaced with a box of WordPerfect discs, and I got pretty good at using the DOS version; I had to eliminate 75% of the hostler assignments at Barstow; the trains got longer and fewer in number; and, oh yes, UPRR took away a big contract at the same time everything else was crashing around us.  But we survived, learned new ways to run our business, became leaner and meaner, prospered, became better, merged with BN, and then became better than either Santa Fe or BN had been.  

But I would still hate to see KCS go through a takeover, because there are some pretty vicious people out there, who have no interest in long term ownership.  And there's no guarantee that KCS would survive one as well as Santa Fe did.  The same opportunities no longer exist.

Last edited by Number 90

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