How a Private Corporation Controls Our Public Health

5. Another jackpot: sustainability!

Bain & Company has also partnered with the NGO Positive Planet, founded by Jacques Attali, the president of Bain’s French subsidiary sitting on its board together with two officials from the French government.[41] “Positive Planet, previously PlaNet Finance, is a group whose main aim is to develop sustainable and equitable economic, social, and environmental inclusion ev-erywhere in the world”.[42] Bain & Company is indeed very much present in what it considers to be the next revolution, that of sustainability: “Similar to the digital revolution before it, the sustainability revolution changes everything”. It is notably “shifting profit pools, challenging historically high returns in some areas while opening up billion-dollar opportunities in others.”[43]

In particular, according to Bain & Company, “[p]lant-based meat could be a $140 billion business by the end of this decade”[44], the aim being to provide substitutes with the same benefits as animal products but without their negative impacts on health and environment. Former associates of Bain & Company have been hired by Impossible Foods,[45] a firm headquartered in California, founded in 2011 to bring this about. The current crisis has proved very profitable for the sale of its products, notably for its flagship Impossible Burger, launched in July 2016, which has been trying to capture the European market since last year.[46] In the U.S., last March, Impossible Burger was available in 150 stores; it can now be found in more than 8 000.[47] The motivations of Impossible Foods are enticing. However, its substitutes essentially contain soja. Now, 94 % of American soya and 82 % of world soya are GMOs, mainly produced by Monsanto (now Bayer) and modified to tolerate its herbicide, Roundup. Monsanto was a client of Bain & Company from 1973 to 1985. It owes its soaring success to Mitt Romney.[48] In 2010, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation bought 500 000 Monsanto shares.[49]

6. From Bain & Company to Bain Capital

One cannot talk of Bain & Company without mentioning Bain Capital. According to the latter’s former managing director, Geoff Rehnert, this investment firm was desired by Bill Bain and his partners in order to “do for the companies that they invested in or that they bought what they were doing for their clients [so] that they would be even more profitable than just doing it on a consulting basis”.[50] Bain Capital was thus founded in 1984 by some Bain & Company partners, notably Mitt Romney, helped by John W. Hanley, the CEO of Monsanto[51]; some of its other early investors have since run afoul of the law.[52] Romney remained its CEO until 1999, except for his brief return to Bain & Company. Seemingly, he “helped turn $37 million and seven employees into 115 employees and $4 billion. For his efforts, he amassed a personal wealth of up to $250 million, depending on the estimate”[53]… but at the cost of how many human lives? Bain Capital is notably specialized in the takeover of businesses, which are then often forced into layoffs and debts, even into bankruptcy.[54] For instance, “Bain invested $5 million to purchase the company [Stage Stores] and took it public in the mid-’90s, reaping $100 million from stock offerings. Stage filed for bankruptcy in 2000, and 5,795 workers reportedly were laid off.”[55] Massive layoffs did take place in a French factory, sold for a symbolic 1 Euro, by its owner Samsonite, whose main shareholder was Bain Capital.[56]

Yet, in 2013, the British “government sold an 80% stake in blood products company Plasma Resources UK” to Bain Capital.[57] Prior to this, a medical testing company, Damon Corp., in which Bain Capital had had “control-ling interest” had been recognized to be “guilty of massive medicare fraud”. However, “[b]y the time, Damon Corp. pleaded guilty to defrauding the United States Government” it had long been sold by Bain.[58] It seemingly also “got away”[59] when another American diagnostics company, now involved in Covid-19 testing,[60] in which it also had “majority control” was alleged in 2012 to have violated “the False Claims Act”.[61] The company was sold to Eurofins,[62] headquartered in Luxembourg in 2015, and only for the period 2015-2017 was there a ruling for allegations that it had “conspired with others to pay doctors kickbacks disguised as investment returns”, for which it agreed to pay compensation.[63] In France, Eurofins is one of the three monitoring laboratories for Covid-19 tests, alongside Cerba Healthcare.[64]

7. Bain Capital and Covid-19

Bain Capital, through its various divisions, is present in all the sectors con-nected to Covid-19.[65] It has notably invested in Vention, which is “[h]elping manufacturers scale and retool production to increase the output of” products considered “essential” such as “masks, PPE and ventilators”’,[66] in Precinmac, “[m]anufacturing more than 800,000 critical components for ventilators”,[67] in Diversey, specialized in disinfectants, and owner of the patent for Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, a new disinfection technology for hands and surfaces,[68]

 

and in Varsity Brands “producing thousands of masks globally”.[69] Bain Cap-ital has also recently invested in a biotech specialized in vaccines,[70] as well as in a health-data startup.[71] Besides, in 2017, Bain Capital together with Microsoft Ventures partnered with In-Q-Tel, “the CIA’s venture arm”, to fund a Silicon Valley startup, which “has been working with” a US Defense unit.[72] Since this summer, Bain Capital has invested in Huddl.ai., a video-conference platform.[73] It also has investments in DocuSign, “The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management”,[74] and Microsoft and Amazon are among its top holdings.[75]

8. Separate or not?

What are the connections between Bain & Company and Bain Capital? It is hard to say. “Bain maintained that Bain Capital was not a sister company or a division but rather a completely separate company that simply shared a similar approach to producing results. The firm was, however, housed in the same building as Bain & Company and its employees shared the same cafeteria.”[76] Also, according to Renhert, “Bain Capital was conceived as a part of Bain & Company initially.”[77] (Today, both are headquartered in Boston.) The website of Bain & Company states: “As a separate company, Bain Capital shares no management or information with Bain & Company. What we do share, however, is our approach to taking on tough business challenges and our commitment to delivering extraordinary results.”[78]

9. Not all that free

According to the New York Times,[79] in an article “ largely based on interviews with Bill Bain, who rarely speaks to the press, and with Bain employees, past and present, some of whom insisted on anonymity”, notably out of fear of reprisals, “Bain is famous for the iron discipline and gung-ho spirit of its troops (who are known throughout the industry as Bainies), and for its extraordinary secrecy. New employees must sign a nondisclosure form, promising never to reveal the names of clients, and everyone who works for the company must adhere to a ’code of confidentiality’ that includes instruction on how to discard sensitive documents.” As regards its role in the public sphere, the way it recruits new clients is worth stating: “In its quest for clients, Bain & Company offers prospects ‘acquaintanceships’, under which the consultants work without charge for several weeks so that the two parties can look each other over.” Another tactic is that of “a camel’s-nose-in-the-tent”. Basically, “the firm will take on a small assignment when the project has the wholehearted backing of the chief executive and the effort can produce spectacular results. If the C.E.O. is impressed, he will be inclined to welcome Bain into the fold. In the process of getting acquainted, Bain teams ask a lot of questions”, and have access to much information. Some British government officers, including a former Health Minister, have joined Bain & Company, after leaving their public office, in the latter case in a role notably covering “thought leadership focused on creating a ‘step change in healthcare delivery’, institutional reforms, technology transformation and behavioural change”.[80] Another case concerns the Senior Responsible Officer of a programme for which Bain had been “selected as strategic partner”.[81]

In France, is Bain intervening “pro bono” , as claimed by the government? The StopCovid platform, launched in March 2020 at the request of its Ministry of Economy and Finance in order to “connect industrialists … and professional users of these products [associated to Covid-19]”,[82] was de-veloped by Mirakl, a French software company. Bain Capital has high stakes in this startup.[83] The sales of some of the disinfectants through this platform directly profit to the company holding the patent for Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, in which Bain Capital has also invested. Moreover, payments are made via Webhelp Payment Services.[84] The Webhelp Group was founded by former Bain & Company associates.[85][86]

10. Have populations been consulted?

In short, have populations the world over, including democratic nations, put every aspect of their lives, especially their health and their future, into the hands of a handful of interconnected sprawling consulting or private equity firms – for Bain & Company and Bain Capital are certainly not alone –, engaged in bringing about it behavioural change,[87] notably through what appears to be an infantilization process which considers them helpless and in need of protection?[88]Are they even aware of it given that major media groups are funded, invested in, or advised by such firms or their clients? While many, including Le Monde, Spiegel Online and The Guardian have received large grants from the Bill and Melinda Foundation,[89] others have been invested in by Bain Capital,[90] or have “worked with” Bain and Company.[91]

This article is based on the French original, “Coronavirus: Une agence américaine pilote la stratégie de la France!”, magazine Nexus (n 131, novembre-décembre 2020), www.nexus.fr

  1. https://www.cityam.com/uk-consultants-paid-100m-to-advise-government-on-coronavirus/
  2. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/strategy-consultants-help-government-chart-covid-19-plans/articleshow/75457363.cms?from=mdr
  3. https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2020/04/15/covid-19-est-il-vrai-que-la-france-est-incapable-de-compter-le-vrai-nombre-de-tests-pratiques-chaque\_1785211
  4. https://www.marianne.net/politique/coronavirus-le-cabinet-prive-qui-pilote-la-strategie-de-depistage-de-la-france
  5. See note 2
  6. See note 1
  7. https://www.cdcfoundation.org/our-story
  8. https://socialimpactatbain.com/bridgespan-high-impact-philanthropy.html
  9. https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/corporate/governance/craver/
  10. https://www.bostonfed.org/news-and-events/pressreleases/2002/boston-fed-announces-2002-board-of-directors.aspx
  11. https://www.bostonfed.org/news-and-events/pressreleases/2004/boston-fed-announces-2004-board-of- directors.aspx
  12. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-183291/
  13. https://mg.co.za/article/2019-07-02-sars-and-treasury-to-pursue-criminal-charges-against-bain-co/
  14. Bain & Co. was the strategic consultant of theCaisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), a Canadian pension fund, for its investment in

    Biogroup-LCD, the 3rd largest group of French medical analysis laboratories. https://capitalfinance.lesechos.fr/deals/capital-developpement/cdpq-investit-180-m-dans-les-laboratoires-danalyses-medicales-de-biogroup-lcd-129632

  15. The chief medical officer of Unilabs is a former Bain & Co. associate. https://unilabs.com/node/1325
  16. February 2020 : Bain \& Company announced it had invested in EcoVadis,https://www.consultancy.eu/news/3896/bain-integrates-esg-and-purpose-in-services-with-ecovadis-deal.

    Cerba is a client of this French firm founded in 2007,

    https://www.csp-epl.com/sites/www.csp-epl.com/files/PHARMACEUTIQUES%20-%20N274%20-%200220%20-%2072-73-LOGISTIQUE%20DURABLE.pdf

  17. https://www.cerbaresearch.com/news/covid-19-samples-available-through-cerba-research-ivd-division/
  18. https://www.data.gouv.fr/en/datasets/donnees-relatives-aux-tests-de-depistage-de-covid-19-realises-en-laboratoire-de-ville/
  19. https://www.gouvernement.fr/sites/default/files/locale/piece-jointe/2019/10/11_against_information_manipulation.pdf
  20. https://www.crunchbase.com/person/matthewstasior
  21. https://www.bain.com/insights/the-future-ofhealthcare/
  22. https://www.bain.com/insights/why-telehealth-will-outlast-the-pandemic/
  23. https://www.bain.com/about/mediacenter/press-releases/2020/lausd-enlists-bain-toplan-recovery-pathway-following-covid/
  24. https://www.inthepublicinterest.org/management-consulting-firm-bain-company-to-help-los-angeles-school-district-with-online-learning/
  25. https://www.bain.com/fr/insights/nous-prenons-un-engagement-de-resultats-envers-les-generations-futures/
  26. https://www.bain.com/about/media-center/press-releases/2020/hadley-announced-as-new-mp-of-bainuk/
  27. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/companyhistories/bain-company-history/
  28. https://www.itsma.com/research/bainnet-marks-bains-push-into-the-e-services-fray-an-interview-with-steve-berez-vice-president-of-e-commerce-bain-company/
  29. https://www.bain.com/insights/the-essential-guide-to-post-covid-19-consumers-video/
  30. https://www.bain.com/insights/video-healthcare-andy-pasternak/
  31. https://www.vault.com/company-profiles/management-strategy/bain-company
  32. https://truists.org/chasing-the-deepest-state-whos-behind-gates
  33. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2020/03/Life-Science-Companies-Commit-to-the-Fight-Against-COVID-19-Pandemic-alongside-Gates-Foundation
  34. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/23/bill-gates-turns-10-billion-into-200-billion-worth-of-economic-benefit.html
  35. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/24/bill-gates-humanity-will-see-its-last-case-of-polio-this-year.html
  36. https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-health-middle-east-africa-united-nations-619efb65b9eeec5650f011b960a152e9
  37. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30111741/
  38. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/covid-could-be-under-control-by-feb-panel/story-dXTj1CeDnHsKxcEAHTAbcO.html
  39. https://iith.ac.in/reshighlights/2019/12/12/Vaccine-On-Wheels/
  40. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database
  41. https://positiveplanet.ngo/gouvernance-2/
  42. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Planet
  43. https://www.bain.com/insights/sustainability-is-the-next-digital/
  44. Ibid.
  45. https://app.lead411.com/company_ImpossibleFoods_3024660.html
  46. https://www.lesechos.fr/industrie-services/conso-distribution/viande-vegetale-impossible-foods-passe-la-seconde-pour-conquerir-le-marche-europeen-1143296
  47. https://www.theshelbyreport.com/2020/08/17/impossible-foods-new-funding-investors/
  48. https://www.motherjones.com/food/2012/09/romney-monsanto-bain/
  49. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/29/gates-foundation-gm-monsanto
  50. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/choice-2012/the-frontline-interview-geoff-rehnert/
  51. See note 49.
  52. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-xpm-2012-jul-19-la-na-bain-creation-20120719-story.html
  53. https://www.americaninno.com/boston/romneys-startup-success-a-history-of-bain-capital/
  54. See note 12.
  55. https://greatgameindia.com/will-mitt-romneys-bain-capital-bankrupt-indian-workers-as-well/
  56. https://la-bas.org/la-bas-magazine/reportages/ON-N-EST-PAS-QUE-DES-VALISES-Les-ouvrieres-virees-de-Samsonite-montent-sur-les-planches-au-festival-d-Avignon
  57. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23372989
  58. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/01/21/romney-supervised-medical-testing-company-guilty-of-massive-medicare-fraud/#479134311aae
  59. https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/bain-capital-got-away
  60. https://bostonheartdiagnostics.com/news/covid-19-antibody-testing-at-boston-heart-diagnostics/
  61. https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4534566/riedel-v-boston-heart-diagnostics-corporation/
  62. https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medical-devices/eurofins-scientific-snaps-up-boston-heart-diagnostics-for-140m
  63. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/laboratory-pay-2667-million-settle-false-claims-act-allegations-illegal-inducements-referring
  64. See note 18.
  65. https://www.baincapital.com/covidresponse/
  66. https://www.baincapital.com/covidresponse/vention
  67. https://www.baincapital.com/covidresponse/precinmac
  68. https://www.baincapital.com/covidresponse/diversey
  69. https://www.baincapital.com/covidresponse/varsity
  70. https://news.crunchbase.com/news/affinivax-closes-on-120m-series-b-as-biotech-takes-center-stage-globally/?
  71. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-05/health-data-startup-verana-raises-100-million-from-gv-bain
  72. https://defensesystems.com/articles/2017/05/18/cia.aspx
  73. https://www.prnewswire.com/newsreleases/huddlailaunches-ai-video-meetings-slack-meets-zoommeets-google-drive-301097913.html
  74. https://www.baincapitalventures.com/portfolio/docusign/
  75. https://fintel.io/i/bain-capital-public-equitymanagement-ii
  76. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/companyhistories/bain-company-history/
  77. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/oral-history/choice-2012/bain/
  78. https://www.bain.com/about/global-affiliations/
  79. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/24/magazine/counselor-to-the-king.html
  80. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/892123/Letter_Bain_and_co_-_LOS.pdf
  81. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/677175/Scan_Nicola_Richardson_20180126-134200_3177_001__1_.pdf
  82. https://stopcovid19.fr/a-propos
  83. https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/inno/stories/fundings/2019/02/28/bain-capital-invests-70m-in-e-commerce-tech.html
  84. https://stopcovid19.fr/faq
  85. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Jousset
  86. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_Duha
  87. See note 81.
  88. https://www.bain.com/insights/the-essential-guide-to-post-covid-19-consumers-video/
  89. See note 40.
  90. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/17/business/worldbusiness/17iht-media.3578586.html
  91. https://www.bain.com/industry-expertise/media-and-entertainment/