It was a long-held fear of Wall Street’s private equity titans. If Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination in 2012, the industry would come under intense scrutiny and withering attacks from his opponents.
As Mr. Romney has established himself as the front-runner in the large Republican field, those fears have come to fruition.
And the private equity titans are fighting back.
The industry’s lobbying group has hatched plans to counter the intensifying criticism of private equity’s business practices. In the coming weeks, the group, the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, will roll out an image campaign, according to two people with direct knowledge of the plans who requested anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss them publicly.
Initiatives includes online advertising that will promote the industry as one that creates jobs and grows companies. The council plans to reach out to political reporters and columnists in an attempt to disabuse them of what it sees as gross misconceptions about private equity. It will also hire more people in the coming months, adding to its lean 10-person staff.
“There is a lot of misinformation being spread, purely for political purposes and on both sides of the aisle, as it pertains to private equity,” Steve Judge, the group’s interim president and chief executive officer, said in a statement issued on Monday. “While the business model has evolved over time, the fact of the matter is private equity provides capital and operational expertise to companies that are often underperforming or on the brink of failure.”
Those comments were in direct response to the stepped-up attacks against Mr. Romney’s business record over the weekend. Newt Gingrich said that Bain Capital, the firm Mr. Romney ran, looted companies and left people unemployed. “When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” a soon-to-be released film backed by Mr. Gingrich’s political action committee, focuses on four soured Bain deals, including one where it laid off a hundred steel workers in South Carolina. A number of investigative articles in the media have also raised questions about Bain’s investment record while Mr. Romney ran the firm.
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