Blackstone Group, KKR & Co. and TPG Capital agreed to pay a combined $325 million to settle nearly 7-year-old claims they colluded to keep leveraged buyout prices low.
The accords, made public Thursday in a federal court filing in Boston, leaves two entities of Carlyle Group, the world's second-biggest private equity firm, as the only defendants in a trial scheduled to start Nov. 3. The settlements still need approval from a judge.
The complaint, filed in December 2007, listed 19 LBOs and eight related transactions in which the private equity firms were accused of shortchanging shareholders in target companies out of billions of dollars by agreeing to suppress takeover bids. The defendants deny the accusations.
The prices were held down when the private equity firms formed groups to take companies private, according to the complaint. The firms were accused of agreeing not to compete for exclusive deals and allocating transactions among themselves.
The firms argued at a December 2012 hearing that the plaintiffs hadn't provided evidence of an overarching conspiracy to rig bids. The deals represented legitimate practices of the mergers-and-acquisitions business, they said. A judge in March 2013 refused to dismiss the case.
Plaintiffs, including the $3.4 billion Detroit Police & Fire Retirement System, earlier settled with Bain Capital Partners, the world's biggest private equity firm, for $54 million, according to the filing. Goldman Sachs Group settled for $67 million, while Silver Lake Technology Management resolved the case for $29.5 million.
The earlier accords are scheduled to go before a judge for preliminary approval on Sept. 4, according to Thursday's filing.
“While we continue to believe that the plaintiffs' allegations are spurious, we determined that after seven years it was best for KKR and our limited partners to put an end to the distraction and expense of this litigation,” the company said.
Blackstone didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlements. Lisa Baker, a spokeswoman for TPG, declined to comment.
“These claims are without merit and we will continue to vigorously contest the allegations,” Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman said in a statement.
A federal judge dismissed suits against defendants including Apollo Global Management and Providence Equity Partners in the past two years.