Private equity has long been cast as one of capitalism’s villains. But through its multibillion-dollar, myth-busting portfolio, Chicago-based Vistria Group is offering a different narrative. The Brunswick Review speaks with their co-CEOs.
During his 2012 re-election effort, President Barack Obama criticized his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, over his career in private equity, an investment strategy popularly known for breaking up companies and eliminating jobs in pursuit of a quick profit. Private equity, President Obama said, seemed too focused on financial engineering and the profit motive and paid too little attention to its impacts on broader society.
Even as President Obama toured the country to stump for his own re-election, his own campaign treasurer, Marty Nesbitt, was contemplating starting a private investment firm that focused on the positive aspects of growth-oriented investing. His brainstorming partner was a fellow Chicago executive, Kip Kirkpatrick. Together they dreamed of a different kind of private investment firm: One whose commitment to the welfare of communities, businesses and workers would play to the financial benefit of investors.
“We don’t like the term private equity because it immediately leads people to think of financial engineering and cost-cutting,” says Kip Kirkpatrick. “We like growth-oriented investing and building market leadership companies so we always referred to our company as a private investment firm or a next-generation investment firm.”