Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, facing political attacks for investing in companies that later filed for bankruptcy protection, should speak more about his experience saving distressed companies, said Carl Thoma, managing partner at Thoma Bravo LLC.
“He could have done a lot more leading with how he’s worked with troubled companies and turned them around and how he did that with the Olympics,” Thoma, who co-founded Chicago-based buyout pioneer Golder Thoma & Co. in 1980 and now runs Thoma Bravo with five other partners, said in an interview Sept. 19 at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “This whole election has centered around attacking each other.”
Romney, who co-founded Boston-based Bain Capital LLC in 1984 and ran the firm for 15 years until leaving to manage the 2002 Winter Olympics, has faced attacks for his role in investments that were followed by job losses at companies such as Dade International, American Pad & Paper LLC and KB Toys Inc. Bain said in a March letter to investors it has increased revenue at portfolio companies by an aggregate $105 billion during its ownership, creating “hundreds of thousands of jobs” in the process.
Thoma, 63, said he’s given more money to political campaigns this year than he did in the rest of his life combined. He gave $2,500 to Romney and $61,600 to the national Republican senatorial and congressional committees, according to OpenSecrets.org, and has donated to Republican and Democratic congressional candidates.
While Thoma and other private-equity executives, including Blackstone Group LP President Tony James and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, have said their investors ask more questions due to the election scrutiny, Thoma’s firm faced few roadblocks in raising its latest fund. Thoma Bravo Fund X closed in February with $1.25 billion after about half-a-year of active fundraising with a target of $1 billion.
“For about 90 percent of our limited partners, it’s business as usual,” said Thoma, whose firm specializes in investing in software, education and financial-services companies. “Some like to know whether you’re creating jobs and how you go about making money. I think everybody is a bit sensitive to that.”