Cashing in on CDW

Contact: Tejas Venkatesh, Ben Kolada

Although CDW was taken private at the height of the prerecession bubble, when valuations were on the rise, its private equity (PE) owners, led by Madison Dearborn Partners and including Providence Equity Partners, may still profit handsomely from their investment. Based on our assumptions, the PE pair could record a profit of nearly $4bn on their investment. CDW filed its IPO paperwork last week.

Madison Dearborn announced that it was taking CDW off the Nasdaq in May 2007, at a valuation of about 1x trailing sales. At that time, the company was debt-free and generated $7bn in revenue in the preceding 12 months.

At the time of the take-private, CDW indicated that it expected $4.6bn of debt to be outstanding after the $7.3bn deal. Assuming all of that debt was used to finance the deal would mean that Madison Dearborn and Providence Equity would have invested just $2.7bn in equity.

If CDW reenters the public arena at the same valuation it was taken off (1x sales), then Madison Dearborn and Providence Equity’s investment will more than double. If CDW goes public at an enterprise value of $10.1bn (1x sales), backing out its $3.7bn of net debt would mean that the PE shops’ equity would have grown from $2.7bn at the time of the take-private to $6.4bn today.

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