Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Candidate for Governor of Illinois formerly an investor in Lason

Blog Publisher’s comments:

a)    I have no interest in Illinois politics

b)    Rauner’s investment firm, GTCR, was an investor in Lason, a company that purchased one sizeable “reprographics” enterprise years ago.  That company was Consolidated Reprographics, then one of Orange County, CA’s two largest reprographers (OCB Reprographics being the other.)  After Lason purchased CR Reprographics and, subsequently, went into bankruptcy, ARC Document Solutions purchased CR Reprographics from Lason.  ARC eventually combined the operations of OCB Reprographics and CR Reprographics.

c)     Where the writers of the article “knock” Rauner for a “black mark” on GTCR’s record, I can’t see where they came to that conclusion!  Rauner’s firm (GTCR) earned megabucks on its investment in Lason.  The article states that GTCR received around $43 mil on three offerings of Lason stock.  I would be willing to bet anyone that GTCR’s investment in Lason was a LOT LESS THAN $43 mil.  The “losers” on Lason where those people (and investment funds) that purchased Lason stock.  If you think that investment funds, investment companies, private equity companies, etc. are ever remorseful about the fall of a company they were once investors in, get real, that’s never the case.

d)    I’m not endorsing Rauner for governor.

Chicago Tribune Editorial, October 10, 2014 

For governor: The Tribune endorses Bruce Rauner, to revive Illinois

The following article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on January 20, 2104 ….

GOP governor hopeful touts business savvy, but 1 investment leaves a black mark on record

January 20, 2014|By Bob Secter and Jeff Coen, Tribune reporters

In an August 1999 interview with The Wall Street Transcript, a subscription newsletter that features interviews with business leaders, Rauner hailed Lason as a "great company … doing quite well," and went on to describe an ownership philosophy at GTCR steeped in the kind of hands-on involvement he now vows to bring to the governor's office if elected.

"We spend a lot of time living with our companies on a week-to-week basis, understanding what's going on, and being in the flow of information, so we can be helpful and knowledgeable about the operation," Rauner said.
He also explained how GTCR liked to build big companies by buying up smaller ones in the same industry and rolling them together. And that is exactly what happened at Lason, which under GTCR control gobbled up more than 60 competitors in the U.S. and overseas markets in less than five years, according to court records.

But the buying spree led to chaos, according to former Lason President John Messinger, who described it as operating in "grab mass" mode, according to a subsequent internal investigative report for Lason that was included in federal criminal court records.
Gary Monroe, Lason's CEO and board chairman, said he was hired with the backing of GTCR, whose goal was to grow the company through acquisitions. Lason's approach was "to do a lot of deals very fast and create more size and revenue as quickly as possible," investigators said Monroe told them. They added "Monroe believes Lason did too much too quickly."

Disorganization grew so acute that longtime customer General Motors pulled much of its database management business from Lason after a series of problems culminating in a weekslong disruption in 1998, according to civil court documents.

Despite such problems, Lason reported record earnings quarter after quarter, a feat that won it raves from stock analysts and boosted its share price.

Lason held an initial public offering of stock in October 1996, a sale that netted $11.8 million for Rauner's firm while reducing its ownership stake to 30.7 percent, SEC records show.

A second public offering in August 1997 brought in another $19.5 million for GTCR while reducing its Lason stake to 15.1 percent, and a third public offering in late summer 1998 reaped an additional $11.4 million for GTCR while cutting its share of ownership to 3.4 percent. By the beginning of 1999, GTCR owned two-tenths of 1 percent of Lason stock.

Prosecutors alleged that for most of that time — from approximately 1997 through early 2000 — Lason's success was bolstered by bookkeeping sleight of hand. The maneuver, referred to around the office as "Tailwind," was orchestrated primarily by William Rauwerdink, Lason's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Rauwerdink, who eventually became a company director as well, was hired by Rauner and fellow board members in 1996 just months after he was sanctioned and fined more than $200,000 by the SEC over insider trading allegations at his previous job. He neither admitted nor denied the allegations, Lason noted in an annual report to the SEC.

Messinger told federal investigators the Tailwind scheme counted on manipulating financial data from newly acquired companies to inflate Lason earnings, driving up the stock price while masking Lason's real financial condition. But the scheme began to unravel as acquisitions slowed and it became difficult to meet Wall Street expectations with accounting tricks alone.

The solution of the Lason conspirators was to make up $13 million in anticipated revenues from work that wasn't real, according to court records. To mislead investors and stock analysts, the false numbers were highlighted in a company press release distributed in late October 1999. The figures were also folded into an official report filed with the SEC on Nov. 15 that wrongly claimed operating income in the third quarter of 1999 had far exceeded the same period the year before.

Amid those events, Rauner departed from the board. His replacement took over Nov. 12, six months before the expiration of Rauner's last term.

Lason's stock began to slip in the face of market fears the company would not meet its goals, tumbling from $39.50 on Nov. 8 to $20.75 on Dec. 8. In response, Lason officials issued public statements declaring the company sound and blaming the stock drop on unfounded rumors about earnings problems.

But on Dec. 17, the company did an about-face and issued a press release acknowledging earnings were off. On the next trading day, the stock price plunged 51 percent. It continued to drop as details of the alleged financial chicanery began to emerge, reaching $2.50 a share by the time investors' complaints were consolidated into one civil lawsuit in June 2000.

In 2001, Lason filed for bankruptcy. The Lason executives were hit with assorted fraud charges in 2003, and all three pleaded guilty.

Rauwerdink received a nearly four-year prison sentence and was ordered by a federal judge to pay $285 million in restitution. Monroe and Messinger received shorter sentences and were ordered to pay $20 million apiece in restitution.

At its height, Lason listed 10,000 workers in 29 states and abroad, but by 2004 it reported just 2,700 employees. In 2007 it was sold to HOV Services in India.

No comments:

Post a Comment