Random Scott Sperling Ramblings

I spent some time yesterday firing questions at Scott Sperling of THL Partners, as part of the Reuters Private Equity Summit. He kept most specifics close to his vest (IFLC auction, Q4 markdowns, etc.), but did offer a few tidbits

*** He didn’t completely rule out participating in the toxic asset program, but he said it was highly unlikely. Not because the guarantees aren’t good enough, but because THL simply doesn’t like investing in assets without control. For example, it won’t do minority PIPE deals or minority debt purchases.

*** Sperling still believes in the Clear Channel investment, even though the advertising downturn has been longer and deeper than THL had expected. He wouldn’t comment on valuation, but also didn’t flinch when I threw out a markdown of approximately 50% (ballpark figure that I’ve heard from multiple sources, related to both THL and Bain).

Then again, flinching is overrated. Then again (again), he did for some reason flinch a bit when I asked if THL was a member of the Private Equity Council (which it is, but I couldn’t remember at the time). Grains of salt…

*** He pronounces the term EBITDA, by saying EBIT-D-A. I say EBIT-Da. You?

*** No significant worries in terms of upcoming debt refinancings. Most of the near-term ones are small and/or have predetermined mechanisms. Warner Music Group has some debt coming due in 2011-2012, but Sperling says the company should have plenty of free cash-flow to cover it.

*** Megan has more here.