Magazine cover smears private equity

Apr 27, 2012

Dan Primack was a senior editor at Fortune from 2010 to 2016. He was also the author of Term Sheet, Fortune's daily newsletter about deals and dealmakers.

Story lauding private equity gets overshadowed by a misleading cover image. 

FORTUNE -- Bloomberg Businessweek should be ashamed of itself. The magazine this week has a fascinating cover story written by Brendan Greeley, who spent a week on the factory floor with an industrial refrigeration manufacturer owned by private equity firm Monomoy Capital Partners. It details how Monomoy uses “boot camps” to uncover operational inefficiencies, and to make their companies stronger.

Greeley’s conclusion:

Practiced this way, private equity is not slash-and-burn liquidation, extracting money from capital. It’s not overleveraging, making profits off dividends paid out of unsustainable loans. Private equity, the way Monomoy does it, is a castle in the sand, a brief victory for order in the constant slide toward entropy.

The magazine cover, however, is a photo of a businessman wielding an enormous chainsaw, with the headline “My life in private equity.” And the blood-red font seems designed to invoke 1980s slasher flicks.

Deceptive, dishonest and an insult to Monomoy, which gave the magazine an extraordinary amount of access.

Maybe the magazine had hoped Greeley would come back with something that damned private equity, but that isn’t what they got.  Businessweek, however, overlooked that salient fact in the name of selling magazines.

This isn't two planes copulating in the air, meant to sex up the idea of a merger. It's a direct misrepresentation of what Businessweek put inside its own pages. Shameful.

[Notes: Yes, I know I work for a competing magazine. No, this isn't about that. Monomoy declined to comment.]

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