The folk legend Robin Hood was, as every child knows, the legendary outlaw who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. But in a reincarnation of a long-running Wall Street scheme, it is the wily financiers who rob from the ordinary folk holding investment accounts at Robinhood.
Today, private equity controls some 8,000 companies in the United States, more than twice as many companies as are publicly traded on U.S. stock markets. Private equity firms manage more than $4 trillion in U.S. assets and now own companies that collectively employ nearly 9 million American workers.
Like many PE firms, Sun Capital Partners often buys up existing businesses, loots their assets, squeezes workers, decimates jobs through layoffs and bankruptcy, and threatens workers’ retirement benefits.
The private equity industry, seeing a window of opportunity following the onset of the pandemic, has taken it upon itself to have the companies that it owns issue at least $10 billion in debt solely for the purpose of paying itself. This is yet another example of private equity looting.
In many ways, the private equity industry embodies some of the worst impulses of Wall Street, squeezing profits at the expense of workers and consumers, and insulating bad actors from risks. But these abuses are not inevitable. On the contrary, they are the result of laws and regulations that can and should be changed.
The problems the SEC identified include fund managers’ failure to make full and fair disclosure of conflicts of interest, charging improper fees, and failure to implement policies to prevent staff from trading on material non-public information. In other words, the SEC’s examinations have shown that private equity and hedge fund managers are consistently engaged in self-dealing and overcharging investors, like pension funds that provide for the retirement security of millions of Americans.
Private equity firms often profit from mass incarceration and they expand inherently racists business practices in communities of color. Private equity is behind manufacturers of weapons used against people protesting police brutality against the Black community.
Fact Sheet: Private Equity Industry Poised to Profit from the Federal Reserve’s New Lending Programs
Private equity funds could access government assistance for their portfolio companies while avoiding any responsibility to repay any debt or obligations to the public purse. Private equity firms could also tap government aid to finance leveraged buyout purchases of additional companies, using public money to load target companies with debt and drain their assets while avoiding any responsibility for paying that debt back.
Unless Congress and regulators act, private equity will shed its nonperforming assets and feast on new ones. J. Crew is the latest example.
Private equity firms loaded J. Crew with debt and hid assets away from investors and creditors.
Preppy retailer cannot survive retail and coronavirus economic downturn saddled by private equity-imposed financial burdens.