By Stephen Aldred and Devidutta TripathyPrivate equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co will keep "a lot of cash on hand" to weather global market turmoil and to stay ready for potential buyout opportunities, founder J. Christopher Flowers said on Wednesday.
Determining the outcome of the sovereign debt crisis of euro zone countries "is impossible to calculate," Flowers said, adding that analysts and investors in Europe see better odds of a positive outcome, while those outside see worse odds.
"My own guess is that the most likely outcome is that the euro zone hangs together. But there is a real possibility that's not how it turns out and we end up in a serious crisis," Flowers told an audience at the AVCJ conference in Hong Kong.
"Here is what we are trying to do in light of this uncertainty: first of all, no matter what we are going to keep a lot of cash in hand, in case we do face a crisis outcome," he added.
Flowers, once a rising star of Wall Street in charge of the Financial Institutions Group at Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N>, made his name in Asia when he led the buyout of Long Term Credit Bank of Japan in 1999, which became Shinsei Bank. Flowers and co-investor Tim Collins cleared more than $1 billion in that deal.
His investments over the global financial crisis have reduced the size of his third $7 billion fund, and the firm has recently taken a hit on the MF Global Holdings Ltd <MFGLQ.PK> crisis, after the commodities broker filed for bankruptcy protection. The collapse of futures broker MF Global cost Flowers $47.8 million.
The firm, which focuses only on financial services, sees a lot of opportunities in the euro zone, should the region manage to stay together in face of the sovereign debt crisis in some of its member nations, he said.
"We have to think about investing now, because if the euro survives, 2012 more or less will probably turn out to be a very good time to invest in financial services, but if the euro breaks up it's too soon," Flowers said.
He cited Spain's cajas savings banks among opportunities in Europe.
(Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Chris Lewis)