Bain & Company

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Bain & Company
Incorporated partnership
Industry Management consulting
Founded 1973; 44 years ago (1973)
Founder Bill Bain
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Key people
  • Bob Bechek, Worldwide Managing Director
  • Orit Gadiesh, Chairman
Products Management consulting services
Revenue $2.3 billion as of October 2014[1]
Number of employees
7,000 as of May 2017

Bain & Company is an American global management consulting firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. It provides advisory services to businesses, nonprofit organizations, and governments, and is one of the Big Three strategy consulting firms (MBB). The CEO is Bob Bechek and the CFO is Len Banos. Bain has 55 offices in 36 countries and 7,000 employees.[1][2]


Bain & Company was established in 1973 by a group of seven former partners from the Boston Consulting Group headed by Bill Bain.

Under Bain's direction, the firm implemented a number of practices that were unusual to the consulting industry in its early years. Notably, Bain & Co. would work with only one client per industry to avoid potential conflicts of interest.[3] Partners did not carry business cards, and clients were referred to by code names to enforce client confidentiality.[4] The company won clients by boardroom referrals rather than marketing, and claimed its consultants worked on increasing a company's market value rather than simply handing clients a list of recommendations.[5] To win business, Bain demonstrated the increase in value of their clients' stocks.[4]

The firm's founding was followed by a period of international expansion. Even though business was sluggish and the company was overstaffed, Bain had to turn away business due to its one-client-per-industry restriction. Competition increased as other firms also adopted Bain’s implementation-focused strategy, and internal infighting among the senior partnership threatened to break up the firm. In response, Bain & Co. was formally incorporated in 1985 and, over the course of two years, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) was established. Bain's senior partners began borrowing against their equity for cash, eventually leaving the firm with a heavy debt load.[3]

Orit Gadiesh at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 2007.

As business slowed, this debt load began to squeeze the firm. Bain ultimately found itself in non-compliance with Bank of New England loan covenants. The resulting debt write-off at the Bank of New England eventually resulted in that bank's failure in 1991.[6]

With the company facing financial duress, Bain Capital partner Mitt Romney was asked to rejoin and lead Bain & Co. as interim CEO. Romney negotiated a settlement between the Bain partnership and the firm's lenders, including a $10 million reduction in the $38 million Bain owed the Bank of New England,[7] which by that time had been seized by the FDIC and placed in Chapter 7 liquidation. Romney was able to negotiate this reduction in the debt amount with the FDIC by threatening to use the remaining cash that Bain had on hand as bonuses for Bain executives.[8] Bain & Company paid Bain Capital a fee of $4 million for Romney's services.[8]

Romney’s plan involved "a complicated restructuring of the firm's stock-ownership plan, real-estate holdings, bank loans, and money still owed to partners".[9] To avoid the financial crisis that a buyout would have triggered, the group of founding partners agreed to return about $100M cash and forgive outstanding debt.[5]

Although in the role for just one year before returning to Bain Capital, Romney's tenure resulted in three changes to firm governance. First, ownership was officially shifted from the owners to the firm's 70 general partners. Second, transparency in the firm's finances increased dramatically (e.g. partners were able to know each other's salaries[9]). Third, Bill Bain relinquished ownership in the firm that carried his name. Within a year, Bain became profitable again and stemmed partner defections.[9]

In 1993, the head position was split into two roles – an executive head (Worldwide Managing Director) and a non-executive head (Chairman of the Board). Orit Gadiesh was named Bain’s first Chairman in 1993, becoming the first woman to lead one of the major consulting firms.[5] Under Gadiesh and MD Tom Tierney, the firm grew by 25 percent per year, expanded its office count from 12 to 26, and increased partnership from about 70 to nearly 200.[5]

Relationship with Bain Capital[edit]

Bain & Co. is an entirely separate entity from Bain Capital. Bain Capital is a private investment firm specializing in private equity (PE), public equity, leveraged debt asset, venture capital, and absolute return investments. Bain Capital does not provide management consulting services to its clients.[10]

Bain Capital was founded in 1984 by several former Bain & Co. partners that included Mitt Romney (later to become the 70th Governor of Massachusetts and candidate for President of the United States), T. Coleman Andrews III, and Eric Kriss.[4] On account of these shared roots, Bain & Co. still maintains a strong institutional relationship with Bain Capital. Many current Bain Capital managing directors and professional staffers began their business careers at Bain & Co.[11]

Past controversies[edit]

The Guinness share-trading fraud was a corporate takeover scandal of the 1980s. In April 1986, the British government launched an investigation into Guinness' purchase of Distillers Company for equity valued at $3.8 billion. The government suspected that Guinness had illegally inflated its stock price to sway Distillers' shareholders away from a competing offer from the Argyll Group, a Scottish food retailer.

Several executives were implicated in the investigation: the Guinness CEO Ernest Saunders, several top executives at Morgan Grenfell (Guinness's investment bank), and Guinness' director of financial strategy & development and then Bain VP Olivier Roux (who had temporarily been assigned to Guinness by Bain). Roux was still on Bain's payroll at the time, prompting public criticism that Bain was guilty of a conflict of interest and leaving Bain vulnerable to lawsuits. Roux later resigned his posts at both Guinness and Bain.[12]

Sir Jack Lyons and "the Guinness Four"[edit]

Sir Jack Lyons, whom Bain hired to help build its consulting practice in Britain, admitted to receiving more than $3 million in fees from Guinness for "advisory services". His company, J. Lyons Chamberlayne, was also under investigation for accepting another $480,000 from Guinness linked to improper share buying. Bain fired Lyons in January 1987; he was later charged (along with Ernest Saunders, Gerald Ronson, and Anthony Parnes). The four men became known as "the Guinness Four." All men were convicted but Lyons was not imprisoned due to ill health. He lost his knighthood and was fined £3,000,000 plus £1,000,000 prosecution costs.[13]

Due to Roux's resignation and Lyon's swift termination, Bain & Co. was never accused of any wrongdoing in the Guinness affair. However the firm's close association with the scandal led to the loss of many core clients and was ultimately a key contributor to the firm's near bankruptcy in 1989 and arguably why it has never regained its status as chief rival to Mckinsey.[14]

Value Partners case[edit]


In 1998, Value Partners, a smaller management consulting firm based in Milan, filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court against Bain & Co., alleging Bain's theft of Value Partners' office in São Paulo, Brazil, including its clients, employees, and confidential and proprietary information.[15]

Value Partners, which was established in 1993, had expanded its operations to five offices worldwide with 80 staff. In 1994, Value Partners opened an office in São Paulo, Brazil. By 1997, Value Partners' Brazilian office was thriving and had grown to 25 staff.[15]

Value Partners claimed that Bain unlawfully caused members of Value Partners São Paulo office to enter into a conspiracy with Bain to take-over Value Partners' Brazilian office. Bain, which at the time had no business presence in Brazil, allegedly determined that it thereby could expand into the region, without incurring the associated start-up costs and risks of a new branch office.[15]

According to the complaint, unbeknownst to fellow members of Value Partners at the time, the co-conspirators remained with Value Partners even after agreeing to join Bain, so as to secretly work from within Value Partners to better effectuate the wholesale misappropriation of Value Partners' São Paulo office.[15]

Post-trial outcome[edit]

In 2002 following a four-week trial, the jury found Bain liable for unfair competition and tortious interference under Brazilian law and awarded Value Partners $10 million in compensatory damages (the full award requested by Value Partners at trial). Value Partners was also awarded approximately $2.5 million in prejudgment interest.[16]

Bain's post-trial motions were denied, and Bain appealed to the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Value Partners filed a cross-appeal, contesting the District Court's denial of its companion claim for treble damages for unfair competition under Massachusetts law.[16]

Awards and rankings[edit]

  • 2017 - Rated #1 on Best Places to work.[17][18]
  • 2017 - Ranked #1 in Vault’s branche-internal survey for the 50 Best consulting firms to work for, as well as Best Consulting Firms for Firm Culture and Firm Leadership.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "America's Largest Private Companies #217 Bain & Co". Forbes. October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Worldwide offices". Bain & Company. Retrieved 2017-05-17. 
  3. ^ a b Naficy, Mariam. "The Fast Track", 1997.
  4. ^ a b c Liz Roman Gallese (September 24, 1989). "Counselor To The King". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d Jack Sweeney (February 2001). "Raising Bain". Consulting Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  6. ^ Tim McLaughlin (July 20, 2009). "Long-failed Bank of New England still pays dividends". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  7. ^ Schoenberg, Shira (July 15, 2011). "Romney accused of getting a ‘bailout’". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  8. ^ a b Tim Dickinson (August 29, 2012). "The Federal Bailout That Saved Mitt Romney". Rolling Stone (magazine). Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  9. ^ a b c Matthew Rees (December 1, 2006). "Mister Powerpoint Goes to Washington". The American (magazine). Archived from the original on January 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  10. ^ "About Bain Capital". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  11. ^ "Senior Professionals". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  12. ^ Nancy J. Perry (April 27, 1987). "A consulting firm too hot to handle? Bain & Co. gets its hands deep in the trousers of client companies, says an executive who knows it well. Maybe too deep, the Guinness scandal suggests.". CNN. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  13. ^ "'Guinness Four' begin appeal". London: Mail Online. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  14. ^ "Bob Bechek’s Bain & Company epitomizes the economic value of values". Firmsconsulting. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Value Partners Files Suit Against Bain & Company for Theft of Brazilian Office". PR Newswire. August 18, 1998. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  16. ^ a b "Weil, Gotshal & Manges : Value Partners, et ano. v. Bain & Company, Inc.". Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  17. ^ Verhage, Julie. "The 50 Best Places to Work, According to Glassdoor". Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  18. ^ Weller, Chris; Jacobs, Sarah. "Bain & Company was just named the best workplace of 2017 — step inside its New York office". Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "Bain & Company|Company Profile|". Vault. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  20. ^ "Inside View: Bain & Company". BusinessBecause. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 

External links[edit]