Congress is close to taxing “carried-interest” income on fund managers at 30% in 2011 from the current 15% capital gains rate. The rate is likely to go to 33% in 2013. Congress may exclude the first 25% of income from this higher tax rate (which doesn’t really make sense to me) but the real story is the opportunity this presents for strategic buyers.
First, private equity firms are now motivated to divest businesses in 2010 to preempt the higher taxes – look for companies they acquired pre-2006 or post 2008 as more likely candidates. Second, I believe these fund managers will find a way to structure deals to avoid the higher taxes, for example using calls and puts. In the meantime this distraction will limit their deal making. So once again strategic buyers have an advantage over financial buyers.
The long-term question is: how will this change impact investments in growing companies? I don’t see how it helps.