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Private equity exits likely to follow tax ruling

Private equity exits likely to follow tax ruling

Tax experts are predicting a wave of private equity exits in the wake of an imminent ruling on private equity structuring by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).The ruling, which was initially…

Tax experts are predicting a wave of private equity exits in the wake of an imminent ruling on private equity structuring by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The ruling, which was initially due for release on 5 May, is now expected to be handed down on 26 May.

Middletons' tax partner Philip Diviny said he believes many private equity owners are currently sitting on assets which they would probably rather sell, but are holding off on due to the current uncertainty surrounding tax.

"The TPG/Myer float may have lit the spark when the Australian Taxation Office failed in its attempt to claim tax on the transaction," said Diviny.

"The ATO was pursuing two overseas companies for approximately $452 million: TPG Newbridge Myer and Luxembourg-based NB Queen SARL."

Middletons' M&A partner John Mann said private equity had, prior to the economic downturn, been an active segment of the market.

"Uncertainty has a paralysing impact on markets and we will no doubt see activity pick up following the tax ruling," said Mann.

"Private equity has proven to be a successful business model both in good times and bad, delivering increased shareholder value. No doubt we will see a number of private equity exits as the market picks up and new opportunities are considered."

Both Diviny and Mann agree that a ruling that results in tax uncertainty will see private equity owners "lining up at the exit doors".

"There has been a steady trend in the out performance of companies exited by private equity as opposed to other models," said Mann. "Indeed Australia's private equity sector is less advanced than both its UK and US counterparts, so we can expect to see a growth in the proportion of mergers and acquisitions activity being linked to private equity activity in the years to come."

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