By Matea Gold, Tribune Washington Bureau –
WASHINGTON — Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney shed dozens of stocks and holdings in various foreign companies in the last 10 months, beefing up his cash reserves while maintaining an overall fortune as high as $250 million, according to personal financial disclosures he filed Friday.
The disclosure — required of presidential candidates — showed that the presumptive GOP nominee’s net worth has not changed greatly since last September’s financial disclosure, when he reported his assets were worth between $190 million and $250 million.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, reported last month that his assets are between $2.6 million and $8.3 million.
Most of the money held by Romney and his wife, Ann, is locked up in investments administered through two blind trusts established in 2003 after he was elected governor of Massachusetts. The trusts are stocked with debt securities, hedge fund investments and other complicated financial instruments — some of them based overseas — that date from his tenure running Bain Capital. Those Bain funds produced income between $720,000 and $6.3 million.
“They do not control the investment of these assets, which are under the control and overall management of a trustee,” said Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman.
One of the biggest shifts in Romney’s portfolio in the last year was his divestment of dozens of stocks, boosting his cash reserves to at least $6.4 million.
Two separate investment fund managers decided independent of Romney to shed nearly all of his stocks, the filing states. Among those sold were his holdings in Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble and Apple. Romney held on to three U.S. stocks: at least $250,000 worth of shares in Ford Motor Co., at least $1,000 in Marriott Vacations Worldwide and at least $100,000 in Marriott International, where he served as a director from January 2009 to January 2011.
He dumped his extensive foreign stock holdings, which included Wal-Mart de Mexico — now the subject of U.S. inquiries into bribery allegations — as well as several publicly traded firms in China. Romney has been a harsh critic of China’s trade policies.
In several of his fund holdings, Romney provided no information on the underlying investments. His report said that his fund managers asked for that information, but were told it was “confidential and proprietary.” That included Solamere Founders, a private equity fund run by his son Tagg Romney.
The campaign said a third trust for the Romney children, not listed in the disclosure, was worth $100 million.
The royalties for Romney’s 2010 book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” dipped to between $50,000 and $100,000. Last year, the royalties came in between $100,001 and $1 million. Romney has donated the profits to charity, according to the disclosures.
The filings do not allow for a precise calculation of Romney’s fortune. In January, he pegged his net worth as “between $150 (million) and about $200 and some odd million” during an appearance on Univision. A recent analysis of his holdings by Forbes estimated his fortune to be worth $230 million.
Such wealth would make him among the richest occupants of the White House — a group that includes George Washington, whose net worth, adjusted to today’s dollars, may have been as much as $500 million because of his land holdings.
Romney’s riches have presented obstacles for him on the campaign trail, particularly in the GOP primaries, when rival Newt Gingrich cast him as out-of-touch with the average voter. Under pressure, Romney released his tax returns in January for the first time, providing a glimpse inside the complicated architecture of his far-flung holdings.
During the last two years, the Romneys paid about $3 million in federal taxes annually on an income of about $21 million, largely derived through capital gains and dividends, the returns showed.
In 2010, the Romneys reported a gross foreign income of $2.7 million, the best measure of how much they gained from international investments that year.
His campaign said that Romney gains no tax benefit from his overseas investments.