Obama will keep hurting private equity

Feb 08, 2012

Dan Primack was a senior editor at Fortune from 2010 to 2016. He was also the author of Term Sheet, Fortune's daily newsletter about deals and dealmakers.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina was in New York yesterday, meeting with financiers like Evercore Partners CEO Ralph Schlosstein and GenNx360 Capital Partners co-founder Ron Blaylock. Interesting takeaway, via Bloomberg:

“In response to a question, Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions.”

Seems to me that it will be a distinction without much difference. If Obama hits Romney on carried interest, Bain’s abilities to profit off on deals gone bankrupt (via div recaps) and other such things, I don’t see how that won’t bleed over into PE as a whole. Bain will become the only PE firm that most PE pros have heard of, and the characterization won’t be flattering.

Just last night, I had dinner with an old (non-finance) friend who is, as they say around here, wicked smaht. He admitted to not having done any research yet – nor have, or will, most folks – but said: “From what I’ve heard, private equity firms buy companies, fire employees and then make profits by selling off the parts. Why isn’t that illegal, or at least universally condemned as immoral?”

That’s the likely narrative, even if Obama doesn’t expand the scope beyond Romney and Bain.

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