FORTUNE -- The Blackstone Group president and chief operating officer Tony James today made his first public comments on a lawsuit alleging that Blackstone (bx) and 10 other private equity firms and banks conspired to keep prices down on take-private buyouts between 2005 and 2008.
In a Q3 earnings call with reporters, James channeled Joe Biden: “The lawsuit is a complete fabrication and a bunch of malarkey.”
When pressed to explain his communications with rival private equity executives during deal negotiations, James insisted that nothing untoward had taken place. Instead, he said that vigorous competition needn't lead to animosity, and that there are legitimate business reasons for maintaining cordial relations with other firms.
James also suggested that there could be some political motivation for the suit, based on Mitt Romney's presence in the presidential race. Kind of odd claim, given that the complaint was originally filed in 2007. Maybe he was referring to The New York Times' successful efforts to get the entire amended complaint unsealed...
Overall, Blackstone reported strong third quarter earnings. The alternative asset manager swung to a profit with $0.55 in economic net income per unit, compared to negative $0.34 ENI per unit for Q3 2011.
der management totaled a record $205 billion at the end of September, up 30 percent from a year earlier. Fee-earning assets under management were up 27 percent year on year to a record $169 billion. Assets under management climbed to a firm record $205 billion, up 30% from the year-earlier period.
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