Nov 30, 2020 - Economy

What to know about the private equity firm linked to Tony Blinken

Blinken and Biden.

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Expect to begin hearing a lot about private equity firm Pine Island Capital Partners, as its partners include Tony Blinken (Biden's secretary of state nominee, now on leave from Pine Island) and Michèle Flournoy (Biden's possible defense secretary nominee).

What to know: Pine Island was formed in 2018 by former CIT Group and Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, former Goldman Sachs buyout big Phil Cooper, and ex-Coca-Cola executive Clyde Tuggle. It focuses on mid-market companies in a variety of sectors, including aerospace and defense.

To date, it's operated as a fundless sponsor, buying two companies that rely in large part on government contracts. It also formed a SPAC and does have eventual plans to raise a traditional private equity fund.

Details: Pine Island has an informal relationship with WestExec Advisors, a consulting firm whose co-founders include Blinken and Flournoy. A Pine Island spokesperson says no money ever changed hands between the two shops.

Between the lines: Obviously, there's a D.C. revolving door issue here, although its importance is subjective rather than statutory. But don't be surprised if Senate Republicans demand information on Pine Island's investors, some of whom might be covered by confidentiality agreements.

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