Private equity may prove a Romney-sized problem for Jeb Bush

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Jeb Bush might have a problem – a Mitt Romney-sized problem.

The former Florida governor and prospective GOP presidential contender for 2016 is involved in the same forms of private equity investments that helped bring down Romney’s chances in 2012.

Documents filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission on Nov. 27, reports Joshua Green of Bloomberg Politics, show Bush as chair and manager of BH Global Aviation, a new offshore private equity fund, which raised $61 million in September, mostly from foreign investors.

Incorporated in the United Kingdom and Wales, the fund operates much like a tax haven, where investors can avoid U.S. taxes and rules.

BH Global Aviation is one of at several funds Bush has launched during the past two years through Britton Hill Holdings, his Coral Gables-based company.

Bush also chairs BH Logistics, a $26 million fund launched in April with support from a Chinese multinational, as well as a $40 million fund participating in shale oil exploration.

Ventures such as these do not necessarily exclude someone from running for president, according to industry insiders such as fund managers and private-placement representatives.

Yet, since most private equity funds last around 10 years, someone contemplating a run for the White House would be ramping down, rather than expanding, his or her involvement.

While it is possible Bush could leave investors so soon after taking their money, it “would be unusual,” says private-equity expert Steven Kaplan University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Al Cardenas, a family friend and former campaign chair, sees Bush as enjoying the life of a private equity mogul.

“He’s having a lot of fun, and he’s being very successful,” Cardenas told Green recently. “That adds to the list of things he’ll have to consider.”

A Bush spokesperson would not identify the foreign investors, but presumably he would be compelled to divulge the information if he chose to run in 2016.

Although many observers – including Bush – criticized Romney on his private equity issues during the last campaign, Green writes that Jeb Bush may learn firsthand how tricky the road to the White House can be.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.