Bain opens up on Romney

March 14, 2012, 2:00 AM UTC

Bain Capital tries to set the record straight.

Bain Capital has become America’s most famous private equity firm, thanks to the presidential aspirations of firm founder Mitt Romney. But it hasn’t publicly discussed Romney, nor has it responded to the numerous attacks on its track-record. Until today.

Fortune has obtained a three-page letter Bain sent to its private equity investors, discussing both its unwanted media attention and information about the firm’s recent performance. Most notably, Bain says that it takes “no public position on any candidate,” and that “Bain Capital itself is separate from politics.”

From the letter:

Most of you have been our partners for many years, and you know that we prefer to maintain a low public profile and to devote our energies to the work we do on your behalf. That hard work continues with enthusiasm, despite an unusual amount of media attention on the firm due to the presidential campaign. We have been most heartened by your support, since you are the ones who know us the best.

It also has been gratifying to see and read the unsolicited support of numerous commentators and experts, and that many reporters and editorial pages have made a concerted effort to explain the strong record of our firm despite a lot of sensationalist rhetoric and political noise.

While we have a great deal of respect across our partnership for all those who pursue public service, including President Obama and Governor Romney, we are not a political organization and take no public position on any candidate. Many of our Managing Directors and employees make individual decisions to support causes and political candidates espousing a range of views, but we assure you that Bain Capital itself is separate from politics.

Mark Twain’s famous witticism, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please,” has unfortunately become a hallmark of today’s political process. The Washington Post Fact Checker recently labeled one of the widely publicized attacks on Bain Capital’s business record an “overthe-top assault,” and admonished that there is “no excuse for this highly misleading portrayal.”

The letter, signed by Bain’s managing directors, then goes on to defend the firm’s record, saying that revenue increased at 80% of the 350 companies in which it has invested, and that less than 5% of the companies it controlled filed for bankruptcy protection.

It also says that its current portfolio employs over 1 million people, and that Bain itself has more than 900 employees. At the same time, it maintained its position that “calculating net job growth across a portfolio of companies is difficult to do with precision” — a stance at odds with Romney’s regular claim that he knows how many net jobs were created at Bain during his leadership.

The letter concludes with a tacit acknowledgement that Bain’s media profile has caused some headaches for investors and portfolio company management, thanking them for having patience.

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