Jon Huntsman, chairman of Huntsman Corp., doesn't mind playing tough. He once told a hedge-fund manager that it would be his "life's purpose" to make trouble for him if he didn't agree to a proposed restructuring. The manager acquiesced.
Now Mr. Huntsman, who is 71 years old, is battling someone not known for backing down. On Monday, a showdown began in Delaware Court of Chancery between his Woodlands, Texas-based chemical company and private-equity tycoon Leon Black's Apollo Management LP. Apollo wants to scuttle a July 2007 agreement to buy Huntsman for $6.5 billion, claiming Huntsman's operations have badly deteriorated. Huntsman says the business is solid and the merger pact is ironclad.
The trial is opening a window into the messy aftermath of the private-equity buyout boom, which came to a screeching halt last year when the credit crunch hit. Many deals struck at the end of that era have come unglued. Investors with cold feet are walking away from agreements. Companies they were supposed to buy are crying foul.
Check out DealBook's liveblog of the trial