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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Toys "R" Us has hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis to work through debt restructuring options that could possibly include a bankruptcy filing, according to multiple media reports. This comes just a couple of months after the specialty retailer disclosed that it had retained Lazard to work on its balance sheet, which includes around $5.05 billion of long-term debt ($400m of which comes due next year). Toys "R" Us is owned by private equity firms Bain Capital and KKR, which took the company private in 2005 for around $6.6 billion (not including debt assumption).

Why it matters: An under-reported story from the financial crisis was the relative paucity of large leveraged buyouts that went bust, despite the glut of overpriced take-privates that occurred between 2005 and 2008. But Toys "R" Us might serve as a contradictory coda.

Flashback: I interviewed Toys "R" Us CEO Dave Brandon — who has past experience leading PE-backed companies, such as Domino's — at a Fortune conference in July 2016, and asked if the original buyout was a mistake (video here, skip to 14:40). His reply, in part: "

I don't think I'm in a real good mood to talk about mistakes my bosses made.... I'm sure they had growth prospects in mind that were steeper than what we've experienced. Typically private equity funds do not want to carry investments for 10, 11, 12 years, so I think it's safe to say that the time horizon of this investment from an IRR standpoint has stretched beyond their original plan."

Go deeper

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

"She-cession" threatens economic recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.

Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.

The Week America Changed

Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Image

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.