House names witnesses for PE hearing

An executive of private equity-owned Dunkin’ Donuts will sit alongside a union representative, an academic and the head of a new private equity lobbying group to answer questions from US congressmen tomorrow.

The US House of Representative’s Financial Services Committee will hear testimony Wednesday as to private equity’s effects on workers and firms.

Four witnesses are slated to give testimony: Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union; Douglas Lowenstein, president of industry lobbying group the Private Equity Council; Robert Frank, a professor at Cornell Universtity’s Johnson Graduate School of Management; and Jon Luther, Dunkin’ Brands chairman and chief executive.

Andy Stern

Stern – whose union has launched an aggressive, high-profile private equity campaign – has been an SEIU member since 1973 and was elected president in 1996. He is the author of “A Country That Works”, a book in which he proposes nationwide political and economic reforms.

Lowenstein was named head of the Private Equity Council when it was formed in December 2006 by large private equity firms. Previously, he was the head of a video game industry lobbying group, Entertainment Software Association. Lowenstein’s experience also includes work as a strategic communications specialist at Robinson Lake Sawyer Miller, as a legislative director for US Senator Howard Metzenbaum, and as a Washington correspondent for Cox Newspapers.

Frank, a professor at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, is a monthly contributor to The New York Times’ “Economic Scene” column. Many of his columns, papers, books and university lectures concern the private equity industry. He has written extensively about the ultra-rich and growing income inequality in the United States.

Luther has been a senior-level executive at Dunkin’ Brands before and after the company’s 2005 sale to private equity firms Bain Capital, The Carlyle Group, and Thomas H. Lee Partners.  He was named chief executive officer in January 2003 and chairman in March 2006. Immediately prior to joining Dunkin’ Brands, Luther was president of fast food franchise Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, a division of AFC Enterprises. AFC has sold various divisions to private equity groups, including the Church’s Chicken and Seattle’s Best Coffee franchise chains.