As a grocery chain is dismantled, investors recover their money. Worker pensions are short millions

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Once the Marsh Supermarkets chain began to falter a few years ago, its owner, a private-equity firm, began selling off the vast retail empire, piece by piece. The company sold more than 100 convenience stores. It sold the pharmacies. It closed some of the 115 grocery stores, having previously auctioned off their real estate. Then, in May 2017, the company announced the closure of the remaining 44 stores.

Image: Washington Post

Marsh Supermarkets, founded in 1931, had at last filed for bankruptcy.

“It was a long, slow decline,” said Amy Gerken, formerly an assistant office manager at one of the stores. Sun Capital Partners, the private-equity firm that owned Marsh, “didn’t really know how grocery stores work. We’d joke about them being on a yacht without even knowing what a UPC code is. But they didn’t treat employees right, and since the bankruptcy, everyone is out for their blood.”

The anger arises because although the sell-off allowed Sun Capital and its investors to recover their money and then some, the company entered bankruptcy leaving unpaid more than $80 million in debts to workers’ severance and pensions.

For Sun Capital, this process of buying companies, seeking profits and leaving pensions unpaid is a familiar one. Over the past 10 years, it has taken five companies into bankruptcy while leaving behind debts of about $280 million owed to employee pensions.

More from The Washington Post

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Report: Romney at Bain Three Years Longer Than He Claimed

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Mitt Romney has long maintained that he left the private equity firm Bain Capital in February 1999 to work on the Salt Lake City Olympics, but government documents uncovered by The Boston Globe suggest he may have been active in the company for three more years.

A Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 said he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002, The Globe reported. Another state disclosure form indicates he earned roughly $100,000 as an “executive” at Bain in both 2001 and 2002 – apart from his investment earnings.

By Johnathan Miller, National Journal

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The Supreme Court, Bain Capital and Mitt Romney

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  •  All eyes on SCOTUS: As early as today and as late as Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue its ruling on the federal health-care law. And there are essentially three outcomes: 1) everything gets upheld, 2) everything gets struck down, or 3) something in between.
  • Immigration decision is coming, too: Don’t forget: We’ll also get the court’s decision on Arizona’s immigration law this week.
  • Bain gets more scrutiny: After the Washington Post reported on Friday that Bain Capital, under Mitt Romney’s leadership, invested in firms that outsourced jobs to China and India, other news organizations piled on Bain. Over the weekend, the New York Times wrote that even when Bain-controlled companies filed for bankruptcy and shed jobs, Bain and its executives still made money. “Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.”
  • Romney’s weekend getaway: Here’s a thought exercise: Imagine if Obama had held a big retreat — say in Santa Fe, NM — with all of his big bundlers. The Hollywood types. The LGBT donors. The NBA stars. Would it have received more coverage than Romney’s retreat with his big bundlers in Utah over the weekend? Perhaps the most newsworthy part of the weekend: the attendance of the Super PAC-men. Not only was Karl Rove there (remember that he helped found American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS), but also spotted in the hotel lobby there was Restore Our Future’s Charlie Spies.

MORE  from NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower@ First Read Blog @MSNBC.

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