There is always this underlying sentiment in Italian public opinion that when you are in politics you don’t serve the public good, you serve your personal interest. Many will see Romney’s role in this as confirmation and it will be interpreted in a very cynical way.
Carlo Alberto Carnevale-Maffè, a professor of strategy at Bocconi University’s School of Management in Milan.
Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid.
Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News.
The buyer, Italy’s biggest telephone company, now has a total market value less than what it paid Bain and other investors for the directory business.
Romney himself probably earned more than $50 million, and possibly as much as $60 million from the Italian directory sale of Seat Pagine Gialle SpA, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal turned into one of the biggest windfalls of his tenure.