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Going Private Falling Off

Chicago — The number of U.S. public companies looking to go private dropped by almost 50 percent last year, from almost 100 in 2003 to fewer than 50, according to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. arm of the global accounting, tax and business advisory company.

It marked the first time since 2001, the company said, “that the number of initial public offerings exceeded the number of companies wanting to go private. However, the value of proposed going private transactions soared due to a few large announcements.”

The decline, the company said, “can be attributed to the rise in equity markets that occurred in 2003. In 2002 and 2003, public companies were going private at multiples below those paid by private equity players in the private market. In 2004, that situation reversed.”

Other factors typically associated with smaller companies going private, the company said, are the increased regulatory and disclosure requirements, as well as the costs, of being a public company.

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