Maxine Waters Takes On The Private Equity Industry

The Congressional watchdog took aim at private equity over bankruptcies and more.

Last week, U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters held a hearing to discuss private equity firms and their role in society.

In the memorandum, the committee was harshly critical of the industry. The committee raised concerns about bankruptcies and jobs for minorities in America.

“In the retail industry, 10 of the last 14 companies that filed for bankruptcy were PE-owned,” they wrote. “And all of the seven major grocery chains that have filed for bankruptcy since 2015 were owned by [private equity]. While 9% of P.E. firms are women- or minority-owned, P.E. job losses disproportionately affect women and people of color.”

The hearing is just the latest assault on private equity from legislators and candidates.

Presidential candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have also vilified the industry in recent weeks.

Rep. Waters blames the Private Equity industry for problems in a wide range of industries, including retail and healthcare. She insinuates that PE firms had exploited the housing crisis. Waters says these firms bought homes at a steep discount and become absentee landlords that charged excessive rents.

She also stated that the industry disproportionately harmed women and people of color.

The House Financial Services Committee Private Equity Hearing

Drew Maloney President and CEO American Investment Council countered Waters’ sentiment. He argued that private equity was an important contributor to the U.S. business environment. In prepared remarks, he said: “In total, the private equity sector in the U.S. employed 8.8 million people and paid $600 billion in wages and other benefits in 2018. That total included more than 1.1 million jobs in California. Roughly a third of those private equity jobs were in either manufacturing, construction, transportation or warehousing.”

The battle over Private Equity is just starting in places like the House Financial Services Committee.

There are several pieces of legislation, including The Stop Wall Street Looting Act of 2019, put forth by Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats. As we disclosed earlier this week, the P.E. industry turned to Ernst and Young to put together a report that shows the benefits of private equity for the economy. This report has faced ridvicule by many on the other side of the debate.

This discussion will pick up steam as the election season kicks into higher gear early in 2020.

Related: Elizabeth Warren: Everything is Wrong with Private Equity, Everything

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