Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of
RJR Nabisco is a book about the
leveraged buyout (LBO) of RJR Nabisco, written by investigative
Bryan Burrough and John Helyar. The book is based upon a
series of articles written by the authors for The Wall Street
Journal. The book was later made into a made-for-TV
movie by HBO, also called Barbarians at the Gate. The book centers on
F. Ross Johnson, the CEO of RJR Nabisco, who planned to buy out the
rest of the Nabisco shareholders.
2 Important personalities
3 Film adaptation
4 Publishing information and reception
Those opposed to Johnson's bid for the company,
Henry Kravis and his
cousin George R. Roberts, were among the pioneers of the leveraged
buyout (LBO). Kravis was the first person Johnson talked to about
doing the LBO and feels betrayed after learning that Johnson wants to
do the deal with another firm, American Express's former Shearson
Lehman Hutton division. Ted Forstmann and his Forstmann Little buyout
firm also played a prominent role.
After Kravis and Johnson are unable to reconcile their differences, a
bidding war takes place which Johnson will eventually lose. The
unfortunate side effect of the augmented buyout price to the
shareholders is the creation of a worrying level of debt for the
The title of the book comes from a statement by Forstmann, in which he
calls Kravis' money "phoney junk bond crap" and declares him and his
cousin as "real people with real money," also stating that to stop
raiders like Kravis: "We need to push the barbarians back from the
F. Ross Johnson, President and CEO, RJR Nabisco
Ed Horrigan, President and
Chief Executive Officer of R.J. Reynolds
Tobacco division of RJR Nabisco
Edward J. Robinson, Chief Financial Officer of RJR Nabisco
Peter Cohen, Chairman and Chief Executive, Shearson Lehman Hutton
Andrew G. C. Sage II, consultant and board member of RJR Nabisco.
Partner, Lehman Brothers
Nick Forstmann, Senior Partner, Forstmann Little & Company
John Greeniaus, President and
Chief Executive Officer of Nabisco
division of RJR Nabisco
Charlie Hugel, Chairman of the Board, RJR Nabisco
Henry Kravis, Senior Partner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
George R. Roberts, Senior Partner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Jim Robinson, Chairman and Chief Executive, American Express
The book was adapted by
Larry Gelbart for a 1993 television movie of
the same name directed by Glenn Jordan.
Publishing information and reception
Harper Collins re-released Barbarians to mark the two-decade
anniversary of the RJR deal. Media columnist Jon Friedman at
MarketWatch opined on the occasion that it was "the best business book
ever." Friedman spoke with the authors about the two-decade history of
the book and of their ensuing careers (the two undertook no further
joint projects). Business reporter
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New
York Times wrote in his book Too Big to Fail that this is his
favourite business book of all time.
^ "'Barbarians at the Gate' authors reflect" by Jon Friedman,
MarketWatch, 11-21-08. Retrieved 2-7-09.
Hamilton, David P., Book Review, Washington Mon