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Gabriel Gomez's private equity deal

May 20, 2013: 4:44 PM ET

gomezU.S. Senate candidate's investment performance.

FORTUNE -- Massachusetts voters are one month away from deciding whether or not former private equity investor Gabriel Gomez should be their next U.S. Senator, in a special election to succeed John Kerry.

To be sure, the ultimate decision won't be based much on what Gomez did, or didn't, do in his eight-plus years with Advent International. In fact, you wouldn't even know Gomez was involved in private equity from watching most of his TV ads, which instead focus on his time spent as a Navy SEAL. And his website never mentions "private equity," instead just referring to Advent as an "investment firm."

But since we care about such things here at Fortune, I figured it was worth a quick look at the only deal Gomez was credited with leading for Advent: Synventive Molding Solutions, a Peabody, Mass.-based provider of hot runner systems and components.

Here is how The Boston Globe recently reported it:

"Advent listed one deal in which it said Gomez helped lead the investment: Synventive Molding Solutions in Peabody, which the firm bought in 2005 and sold last summer for $335 million."

The reporting here is a bit tricky because Advent doesn't like to talk about its deals -- and the Gomez campaign won't discuss it -- but the Globe errs in leaving an impression that Synventive was a lucrative endeavor. It wasn't.

For starters, a source close to the original 2005 transaction tells me that the deal was valued at around $160 million, including debt. A regulatory filing also suggests that around $59 million of equity was involved, but chances are that Advent's actual contribution was less.

By 2011, however, the deal was severely underwater and Synventive was having trouble meeting some of its debt obligations. So Advent swapped most of its equity with creditors, led by Littlejohn & Co. It remains unclear exactly what percentage ownership stake Advent retained, although I have confirmed that it did still have a piece.

The sale for $335 million to Barnes Group (B) came about one year after Littlejohn took over, with a source telling me that Advent received less in proceeds than it originally invested.

Again, one  investment (good or bad) isn't why Gomez will or won't be heading to Washington, D.C. Nor should it be. And Gomez spent more time at Advent working with portfolio companies like Lululemon (LULU) than he did sourcing and leading new deals.

But first-time candidates like Gomez largely run on biography, and this is part of his. Even if neither he nor Advent want to talk about it.

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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