Private Equity

Authored by: Daniel Scott Souleles

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Finance Studies

Print publication date:  September  2020
Online publication date:  September  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138079816
eBook ISBN: 9781315114255
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315114255-13

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Abstract

Between November 2012 and July 2013, a humble, processed snack-cake with a cream filling, the Twinkie, vanished from American stores and shelves. This disappearance was curious. It had nothing to do with consumer tastes—people still loved and hoarded them. And it had nothing to do with the cost or quality of ingredients—they’re still cheap as ever to make and have an exceptionally long shelf-life for a baked good. Rather, what drove Twinkies from the shelves was a dispute between management and labor that was ultimately resolved by financial capitalists, private equity (PE) investors who bought Twinkie’s parent company, Hostess as an investment, fired the vast majority of unionized workers, closed a number of bakeries, and re-opened a radically streamlined business operation, all while extracting wealth from the company and reallocating that wealth to the PE firm’s investors and the professionals who ran the PE firm. The PE buyout of Hostess is typical of the power PE investors have over companies and flows of wealth, and can best be understood by a wide-ranging social analysis and anthropological theories of exchange.

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