The latest anti-buyout film from Robert Greenwald was released today, a national US holiday celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday.
In a personal attack on Henry Kravis the film urges viewers to “fight for the dream”, playing on King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
KKR is being used to further other agendas.
In addition to King’s words, Greenwald’s eight-minute film features blue collar workers from an Illinois plant associated with Accuride, a truck parts manufacturer KKR acquired in 1997 and fully exited midway through 2007. Each worker shares negative observations of private equity ownership at the plant.
But a KKR spokesman said the film's focus on the private equity firm and its former portfolio company is misplaced.
“KKR owned Accuride for nine years, during which time it addressed a brutal competitive market for heavy truck parts with substantial new investment and a number of other constructive measures that preserved jobs, introduced new products, and helped the business survive a prolonged industry downturn, during which many automotive parts makers have gone bankrupt,” the spokesman said. “The issues at the company have to do with industry issues and not private equity issues. KKR is being used to further other agendas, as KKR has not controlled Accuride for two years and has had no ownership interest during the recent period of labour-management tensions.”
Unlike Greenwald’s prior film, which also targeted KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, this film ends with a call for viewers to tell all of the Presidential candidates to “pledge to close the buyout industry’s tax loopholes” and provides a related online petition.
Greenwald previously told PEO that each film in his series will progressively adopt a greater focus on the problems he sees with private equity, including exorbitant deal fees and the designation of carried interest as capital gains.