Cerebrus Capital Management describes itself as “one of the world’s leading private investment firms”. The group frequently works with top PR firm Weber Shandwick. Cerebrus also owns Freedom Group, a holding company that includes the gunmaker Bushmaster (the same company that manufactured the weapon used in last week’s horrific Newtown, Connecticut shooting).
Today brings news that Cerebrus plans to sell all assets in Freedom Group in a coordinated act of damage control. We have reason to believe that Weber Shandwick advised Cerebrus to take this route, and we have to say that it was a very good decision.
Private equity firms generally don’t rely too much on public opinion, but pressure to act began building as soon as the public learned of Cerebrus’s significant stake in the nation’s largest gun manufacturer. See, quite a few Americans nursed pension funds directly tied to a company that makes semi-automatic rifles—and they didn’t even know it.
While this move will almost certainly cause Cerebrus to lose money in the short term (let’s not forget the massive profit margins enjoyed by companies that make weapons), we still feel like it’s the right decision, because continued ties to the Freedom Group could discourage future investors.
Cerebrus’s official statement on the matter reads: “We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so”. Yes, we can certainly see why they wouldn’t want to be involved in that debate.
Bloomberg also notes that the father of Cerebrus founder Stephen Feinberg lives in Newtown, but let’s be honest here—it’s all about the money.