2012 GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, who has a large lead in the polls heading into the New Hampshire primary tomorrow, has been taking heat from both Democrats and his Republican challengers for his time at Bain Capital, the private equity firm that he headed. Bain’s modus operandi was to invest in companies, leverage them up with debt, and then sell them off for scrap, allowing Bain’s investors to walk away with huge profits while the companies in which Bain invested wound up in bankruptcy, laying off workers and reneging on benefits.
Last week, Reuters profiled one company, Worldwide Grinding Systems, that went belly up after Bain invested in it. The company not only lost 750 jobs, but the federal government had to come in to bail out its pension fund, while Bain walked away with millions in profits.
And according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, this was far from an isolated incident. In fact, 22 percent of the companies in which Bain invested wound up either in bankruptcy or shutting their doors entirely, while Bain itself has made billions of dollars for its investors:
The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain’s involvement and shortly afterward.
Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. [...]
The Journal analysis shows that in total, Bain produced about $2.5 billion in gains for its investors in the 77 deals, on about $1.1 billion invested. Overall, Bain recorded roughly 50% to 80% annual gains in this period, which experts said was among the best track records for buyout firms in that era.
Adding insult to injury, Bain would hide its profits in tax havens, not even paying the rate it was supposed to on the profits it made laying off workers.
Romney has tried to spin his firm’s record of destruction as simply the way “free enterprise” works, claiming that Bain, overall, created 100,000 jobs. However, the campaign recently admitted that the 100,000 statistic is bogus, cherry-picked from a few successful ventures. One of Romney’s former partners at Bain has even said, “I never thought of what I do for a living as job creation…The primary goal of private equity is to create wealth for your investors.”