Mitt Romney and the demise of Anthony’s 

Credit: Brad Gregg

Mitt Romney does, or at least he might, as detailed in a recent Newsweek story by David Stockman, former budget director in the Reagan administration.

As reported in the article, Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, began buying up big-box retailers in the late 1980s and early ’90s that were failing amid the proliferation of Wal-Mart.

One of the stores Bain purchased was the publicly traded Stage Stores Inc. In spring 1997, Bain caused Stage to raise $300 million in new junk bonds with the proceeds going to purchase the C.R. Anthony Company.

The 250-store business had been established in Cushing. C.R. Anthony’s grandson is longtime Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony.

After the purchase through Stage, most Anthony’s
stores were renamed Stage. The company’s stock price doubled, while Bain
and its partner, Goldman Sachs, unloaded their stock, according to
Stockman.

You can probably guess what happened next.

Stockman
dubs the deal a “bull market scam,” reporting that a year after Bain
exited — the same year it acquired Anthony’s — sales begin to plummet,
losing a total of $150 million from 1998 to 1999.

In
other words, while Stage was already facing challenges with the
Wal-Mart behemoth, the purchase of Anthony’s temporarily doubled the
stock, then Bain sold out and left Stage with nothing but debt.

And that, as they say, was that.

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