Departing Dallas Dispatches

Greetings from Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas — one of the nicest establishments in which my corporate overlords have voluntarily boarded me. A bunch of quick hits before I catch a flight back to the Bay State.

*** Just asking: Secondary private equity firms are licking their lips over the discounted assets in market, but aren’t many of those same firms in hot water for assets they bought in 2006 and early 2007? A source told me over dinner last night (steak – how deliciously stereotypically Dallas) that secondary firms were, on average, still paying premiums until around Q2 of last year. That means they’ve got lots of stuff on their books that today they wouldn’t touch anywhere north of 60 or 70 cents on the dollar. If you’re a secondary firm that blew through cash in 2006 and 2007, that’s got to be some heavy baggage.

*** Speaking of secondaries, I heard the following anecdote from someone else: An LP wanted to dump the unfunded piece of a brand-name buyout fund, which was only around 30% called. Willing to literally give away the unfunded commitment, so long as the buyer would fund it and pay the relevant fees. Couldn’t find any takers.

*** Consensus on my energy panel yesterday was that some sort of carbon cap and trade program will emerge from the Obama Administration. Panelists weren’t terribly happy about it, but were resigned to it

*** Last month we reported that New Mountain Capital was launching a debt practice, with a focus on distressed opportunities. The first hire was Rob Hamwee, a onetime Blackstone pro who had been serving as president of GSC Partners. Now it seems that New Mountain has given Rob some familiar company, agreeing to terms with fellow GSC alum John Kline, who had been in charge of buying loans in the secondary market for the firm’s CDO team. He officially begins in January. Neither Kline nor New Mountain boss Steve Klinsky returned requests for comment.

*** Two people referred to 2010 as “oh-ten.” Is that really what we’re going to call it? Are we incapable of referring to a year with a single syllable? What did folks in 1910 call 1910?

*** Accel Partners yesterday announced that it had raised around $1 billion in new funds — $480 million for its debut growth fund, and $525 million for its second European venture fund. The totals might actually be a bit higher, since the firm also raises unannounced side funds.

The real amazing thing is that the fundraising took just two months, and that Accel stuck to its “one and done” close date of December 10. I had heard about the strategy last month, and figured that the firm would budge. After all, LPs are gasping for unallocated dollars, and typical fund-raising strategy is to hold a first close in December and hold a final close in January to accommodate LP calendars. But Accel made its initial timing decision in the spring, and still felt confident after its October LP meeting (where it unveiled the plan). Got to tip your hat to them..

*** There are a few more Internship Rodeo listings to post, and I’ll get to it this weekend. So check the MBA Forum on Monday.

*** U.S. Air wins the cheap bastard award, for charging me $2 to have a can of soda or bottle of water on my flights out to Dallas. I asked my stewardess/cashier for an explanation, and she told me (with a straight face) that it was due to “high fuel costs.” I asked her to come up with a better lie to tell the next outraged passenger.

*** Sign of a good hotel: Minibar contains glass jar full of gummi bears. Glad I can just itemize those as “meal.”

*** Signing off… I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Erin & Connie.