Romney wealth still tied to Bain

The US presidential candidate still has major stakes in Bain Capital funds, although these have been placed in a blind trust, according to recent campaign disclosures.

Mitt Romney, who is running as a Republican in the 2008 presidential election, has major investments in funds controlled by Boston-based Bain Capital, according to a 45-page public financial disclosure report released yesterday.

Romney was head of Bain Capital from its founding until he left the firm in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.

According to the disclosures, Romney and his wife, Ann, have no control over, or even detailed knowledge of, their extensive holdings, valued at between $190 million and $250 million.

Among the investments listed are stakes in dozens of entities controlled by Bain Capital, including private equity funds under the Bain Capital name, credit funds managed by Bain-affiliated Sankaty Advisors, hedge funds managed by Bain-affiliated Brookside Capital and Absolute Return Capital, and various trusts affiliated with the firm.

The largest holdings listed include an investment valued at between $5 million and $25 million in BCIP Trust Associates III and another stake in a similar value range in Brookside Capital Partners Fund.

According to the Romney campaign, the candidate has an agreement with Bain Capital, running through February 11, 2009, whereby he receives “a passive, declining share that is fixed by contract in certain Bain Capital entities, and the right to make passive investments in certain Bain Capital investments.”

The statement adds: “[N]either Mr. Romney nor Mrs. Romney has received any reports indentifying specific assets held, and the management of the assets has been deemed blind by the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.”

Foonotes to the disclosures say that Romney “requested information about the underlying holdings” of many of the private funds in his portfolio, including those managed by Bain, but that these firms “informed the filer in writing that this information is confidential and proprietary, and. . . declined to provide such information.”

Romney’s time at the helm of Bain Capital is the subject of an upcoming feature in the September issue of sister magazine Private Equity International.

The Romney campaign faces a potential political liability due to his perceived affiliation with a private equity firm, due to the poor image of private equity and buyout firms among many voters. Romney lost a 1994 race against Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy in part because of the incumbent successfully portrayed Romney as a job-destroying buyout artist.