Hicks, Muse Buys the World

IN THE SIX YEARS SINCE THE Dallas investment banking firm of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc. began operating, its stable of properties has grown to include an eclectic mix of companies that at first glance seem to have absolutely nothing in common.

Since 1989, Hicks, Muse has completed or has pending 40 transactions with a combined value of $6 billion. Try to find the common denominator that unites Chancellor Broadcasting Company with 33 radio stations and Camp-fire Marshmallows. Now try G. Heileman Brewing Company, maker of Lone Star Beer; DESA (formerly Toro) outdoor heating equipment; AT&T Connectors; Earl of Arkansas, (a leading manufacturer of polyurethane foam products, such as chair upholstery stuffing); Neodata Corp., a magazine subscription fulfillment company; and Montana Silversmith, crafter of western jewelry.

Baffling to the public, perhaps, but Jack Furst, managing director and principal of the firm, says there is method in this investment madness. “Among the characteristics these companies have in common are the strength of their Operations, their strong management teams, their strong positions in well-defined niche markets, their low exposure to technological or product obsolescence, and minimal exposure to the ups and downs of business cycles,” says Furst. That’s something to mull over next time you’re drinking Lone Star and munching marshmallows in your easy chair.

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