Private Equity Lobbyist Changes Name as New CEO Eyes More Firms

  • PEGCC becomes American Investment Council under Mike Sommers
  • In shift, group aims to include smaller firms, funds of funds

A pedestrian passes in front of the Carlyle Group LP logo displayed on a building in New York on May 3, 2012.

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

The private equity industry’s lobbying group, which represents firms such as KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group LP, changed its name as Chief Executive Officer Mike Sommers casts a wider net for members affected by existing and potential regulations.

The American Investment Council, formerly known as the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, will expand its membership beyond buyout managers to include growth-equity firms, more middle-market investment groups and private equity funds of funds, the Washington-based organization will announce Tuesday.

“These changes reflect the broader focus of our member firms post-financial crisis,” said Ken Mehlman, the AIC’s chairman and a partner at New York-based KKR.

The shift comes as Sommers, who stepped into the CEO role in February, sets a larger agenda for the organization. The 41-year-old, who was chief of staff to former House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, replaced Steve Judge, who stepped down last year.

The council, started in 2007, represents more than 35 private equity firms as well as 18 law and accounting firms in the companies’ dealings with regulators and lawmakers. Among its members are the world’s biggest private equity firms, including Blackstone Group LP, Apollo Global Management LLC, CVC Capital Partners and TPG.

Clinton, Trump

It’s taken on several policy battles on behalf of the industry, including fighting for the continued tax treatment of deal profits, or carried interest, as capital gains rather than ordinary income. Presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said they would work to change the classification, taxing carried interest at the higher rate on income.

The council also has advocated for keeping interest expense tax-deductible, a boon to the firms when they borrow money to finance deals and amplify the returns.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, the group defended the industry against a torrent of criticism, as rivals of Republican nominee Mitt Romney accused the Bain Capital founder of slashing jobs while earning hundreds of millions as a private equity investor.

Judge, who joined the organization in 2007 and became CEO in 2012, responded by expanding membership to include smaller firms and undertaking research on private equity’s reach into the economy. More than 14,000 U.S.-based companies have received private equity backing, and the businesses have hired 7.5 million workers, according to the group.

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