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SEIU: America for Sale?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2008
1:17 PM

CONTACT: SEIU
Mike Bento, P: 202.291.3117

 
America for Sale?
Foreign Governments’ Links to Secretive Buyout Firms
Raise Concerns about National Security
 
WASHINGTON - August 12 - This week, SEIU began running radio and print advertisements in six states as part of an ongoing public awareness campaign highlighting the national security concerns raised by the growing links between foreign governments and private equity buyout firms.

The ads – running in Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana – point out how foreign government-controlled investment funds, known as “sovereign wealth funds” (SWFs), are partnering with private equity funds to make huge investments in American companies that are responsible for important aspects of our national defense, energy, and homeland security. Because private equity firms are exempt from many of the public disclosure requirements that apply to public corporations, it is difficult to ascertain the size of the SWF’s holding or the manner in which decisions are made about the companies they own together, some of which are critical to national security.

“Americans have a right to know if a foreign government has any role when decisions are being made about the M1 tank, missile systems, or the development of oil and gas pipelines,” said Stephen Lerner, Director of SEIU’s Private Equity Project. “We don’t know enough about the exact nature of foreign involvement in these companies and the motives behind these arrangements.”

Last fall, the Mubadala Development sovereign wealth fund of the Government of Abu Dhabi paid $1.35 billion for a 7.5% ownership stake in the Carlyle Group. Carlyle, with more than $82 billion in assets under management, owns a stake in more than two dozen companies that do work in defense, homeland security, energy and other sensitive areas. Late last month, Carlyle completed its purchase of the government consulting arm of Booz-Allen Hamilton, which has done billions of dollars of work for intelligence and defense agencies.

While SEIU is not calling for an end to these investments, a minimum level of sensible disclosure and transparency should be required when foreign governments partner with buyout firms.

The radio and print ads urge Americans to call Senator John McCain’s Capitol Hill office to tell him they have the right to know when foreign countries buy into American companies vital to our economic prosperity and national defense.

The new radio and print campaign runs in conjunction with a television ad SEIU began airing last month on national cable news networks. Learn more about the TV ad campaign.

SEIU has been a leading advocate for more transparency and disclosure by buyout firms, whose size and influence in the economy has grown exponentially in recent years.

To view the print ads and listen to the radio ads, visit www.behindthebuyouts.com.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare, and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today's global economy

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