History of Private Equity and Venture Capital - Responses To Private Equity - Contemporary Reflections of Private Equity and Private Equity Controversies

Contemporary Reflections of Private Equity and Private Equity Controversies

Carlyle group featured prominently in Michael Moore's 2003 film Fahrenheit 9-11. The film suggested that The Carlyle Group exerted tremendous influence on U.S. government policy and contracts through their relationship with the president’s father, George H. W. Bush, a former senior adviser to the Carlyle Group. Additionally, Moore cited relationships with the Bin Laden family. The movie quotes author Dan Briody claiming that the Carlyle Group "gained" from September 11 because it owned United Defense, a military contractor, although the firm’s $11 billion Crusader artillery rocket system developed for the U.S. Army is one of the only weapons systems canceled by the Bush administration.

Over the next few years, attention intensified on private equity as the size of transactions and profile of the companies increased. The attention would increase significantly following a series of events involving The Blackstone Group: the firm's initial public offering and the birthday celebration of its CEO. The Wall Street Journal observing Blackstone Group's Steve Schwarzman's 60th birthday celebration in February 2007 described the event as follows:

The Armory's entrance hung with banners painted to replicate Mr. Schwarzman's sprawling Park Avenue apartment. A brass band and children clad in military uniforms ushered in guests. A huge portrait of Mr. Schwarzman, which usually hangs in his living room, was shipped in for the occasion. The affair was emceed by comedian Martin Short. Rod Stewart performed. Composer Marvin Hamlisch did a number from "A Chorus Line." Singer Patti LaBelle led the Abyssinian Baptist Church choir in a tune about Mr. Schwarzman. Attendees included Colin Powell and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The menu included lobster, baked Alaska and a 2004 Louis Jadot Chassagne Montrachet, among other fine wines.

Schwarzman received a severe backlash from both critics of the private equity industry and fellow investors in private equity. The lavish event which reminded many of the excesses of notorious executives including Bernie Ebbers (WorldCom) and Dennis Kozlowski (Tyco International). David Bonderman, the founder of TPG Capital remarked, "We have all wanted to be private – at least until now. When Steve Schwarzman's biography with all the dollar signs is posted on the web site none of us will like the furor that results – and that's even if you like Rod Stewart." As the IPO drew closer, there were moves by a number of congressman and senators to block the stock offering and to raise taxes on private equity firms and/or their partners—proposals many attributed in part to the extravagance of the party.

Rubinstein's fears would be confirmed when in 2007, the Service Employees International Union launched a campaign against private equity firms, specifically the largest buyout firms through public events, protests as well as leafleting and web campaigns. A number of leading private equity executives were targeted by the union members however the SEIU's campaign was non nearly as effective at slowing the buyout boom as the credit crunch of 2007 and 2008 would ultimately prove to be.

In 2008, the SEIU would shift part of its focus from attacking private equity firms directly toward the highlighting the role of sovereign wealth funds in private equity. The SEIU pushed legislation in California that would disallow investments by state agencies (particularly CalPERS and CalSTRS) in firms with ties to certain sovereign wealth funds. Additionally, the SEIU has attempted to criticize the treatment of taxation of carried interest. The SEIU, and other critics, point out that many wealthy private equity investors pay taxes at lower rates (because the majority of their income is derived from carried interest, payments received from the profits on a private equity fund's investments) than many of the rank and file employees of a private equity firm's portfolio companies.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Private Equity And Venture Capital, Responses To Private Equity

Other articles related to "private":

Private Equity In The 2000s - Contemporary Reflections of Private Equity and Private Equity Controversies
... Over the next few years, attention intensified on private equity as the size of transactions and profile of the companies increased ... described the event as follows Schwarzman received a severe backlash from both critics of the private equity industry and fellow investors in private equity ... David Rubenstein, the founder of The Carlyle Group remarked, "We have all wanted to be private – at least until now ...

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