Our ‘mentor’: Bill Bain’s legacy

The Tennessee-native and Bain Capital founder is remembered by the private equity industry for his influence and inspiration.

Bill Bain

Following the death of William Bain last week, tributes are continuing to be paid to the man many called their private equity “mentor”.

Managing directors at the firm he co-founded remembered a figure whose “support, especially during Bain Capital’s early years, was crucial”.

In a statement they said: “We will forever appreciate how generous he was with his time as a mentor.”

The Tennessee-native was responsible for private equity behemoths Bain Capital and management consultancy Bain & Company. His legacy is one that includes a firm with $85 billion of assets under management and counting.

Bain founded the consultancy which bears his name in 1973 after a spell at Boston Consultancy Group. Bain & Co has since evolved into a mainstay of the private industry market having advised on half of all buyout transactions valued at more than $500 million globally in the past decade, according to its website.

His approach to private equity would later become more direct. Founding Bain Capital in 1984, he succeeded in raising $106 million for the firm’s debut private equity fund three years later.

More than 30 years on, the Boston-headquartered manager has expanded into several asset classes including credit, public equity and venture capital, and is ranked 11th in the PEI 300. It has also generated impressive returns; Bain Capital Europe Fund III, a 2008-vintage, had generated a 3.37x total-value-to-paid-in and a 22.5 percent net internal rate of return as of 30 September, according to a Bain document seen by Private Equity International.

Last year it raised $9.4 billion for Fund XII and picked up Harvard Management Company’s 22-person real estate team. It is targeting at least €4 billion this year, with PEI breaking news of an impending close on its fifth European flagship and the launch of a special situations fund for the same region in January.

Such a rise is no coincidence.

“It’s hard for me to imagine my life and career without Bill Bain’s mentoring,’’ Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate and Bain Capital alumnus, was reported as saying.

“He hired me, taught me, and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. His vision and confidence made Bain Capital possible.’’

Bain is survived by his wife, Ann Dean Bain, and four children.