Let's face it, this has been a tough year for Bain Capital. But in a new letter to investors, Bain says it's doing just fine, and hopes you're fine with Bain.
"Now that the US presidential election is over, we are writing to thank you for your support and patience over the last year," Bain's managing directors wrote in an investor note late on Thursday. They acknowledged that many things were said that hurt their feelings, but they kept their heads down and their eyes on the prize -- making mountains of money.
"Throughout this long and contentious election season, rest assured that we did not permit ourselves to be distracted by politics," the managing directors wrote. "Fortunately the folks with whom we do business have a great ability to separate hyperbole from fact, and political gamesmanship from reality."
It should have been a good year at Bain: One of their own, their founding CEO, one Willard Mitt Romney, almost became President of the United States. That would have been huge, having one of their own running the country. It's like when Tommy DeVito almost got made in "Goodfellas." Almost.
Except it turned out to not be such a great thing. People who didn't want Romney to be president, people like Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama, started picking through every little thing Bain had ever done and finding fault with it. They said horrible things about Bain, about how it loaded up companies with debt and laid off workers and shipped jobs overseas. They even accused Bain of killing a lady. It didn't help that the villain in "The Dark Knight Rises," a movie partly about class warfare, was a homophone of Bain.
But now it's all over. Romney, like Tommy DeVito, lost. Unlike Tommy, Romney will now retire to lick his wounds and write his memoirs (tentative title: "I Should Have Believed The Math") or something.
Where does that leave Bain? Probably no worse for wear. If anything, while its good name has been sullied for the general public by this bruising campaign season, the rich people who tend to invest in private equity are probably more inclined to invest with Bain Capital than ever, precisely because it was a target of the angry Poors.
Just to be on the safe side, though, Bain wrote its little note yesterday, likely gearing it up for public consumption, just to make sure everybody was still cool.
They also pointed out -- again, probably for broader public consumption -- how hard they worked to keep themselves above the political fray.
"Early in the process we determined, deliberately and consciously, not to engage in debates with either campaign," they wrote. "When there were mischaracterizations of our business record, or a misstatement of fact about the firm, we worked with major press outlets to correct the record. We refused, however, to be drawn into the give-and-take of the political season."
They pointed out that Bain is apolitical, with managing directors made up of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Rastafarians and more (one of those is fake). Some of their employees were for Romney. Some were for the other one, the socialist Kenyan. And it is true that in most election seasons Bain typically gives more money to Democrats than to Republicans.
The damage to Bain's public reputation is probably done: It will long be associated with all the worst things people think about private equity, fairly or not. But everything is almost certainly cool between Bain and its investors.
The irony of all of this is that Bain is far from the worst private-equity actor out there, in terms of slavering, soulless greed. Meanwhile, investors should maybe be giving Bain the stinkeye for an entirely non-political reason: As Brett Arends argued in his ebook "The Romney Files" earlier this year, Bain has committed the worst sin of all: producing mediocre returns.