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Video shines spotlight on a Mitt Romney ally

Before a clandestine video of a Mitt Romney fund-raiser at his Florida home became national news, private-equity baron Marc J. Leder may have been best known in Massachusetts as the man who deprived almost half the state of its Fribbles.

The buyout firm that Leder cochairs, Sun Capital, purchased Friendly’s, the New England restaurant chain, in 2007. But instead of the long-ailing company turning around, Friendly’s briefly went into bankrupcy last year, leading to the closing of about 40 percent of its Massachusetts locations.

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The hidden-video remarks are casting a far brighter spotlight on Leder, a prolific donor to Romney’s campaign and to super PACs backing the former Massachusetts governor.

The two men have a longstanding bond: Leder credits Romney with inspiring him to break into private equity in the 1990s, when he left his job at Lehman Brothers to start Sun with Rodger R. Krouse. Romney also invested in the firm.

In addition, Leder is known for hosting raucous parties, including one at a Long Island mansion that generated the New York Post headline “Nude Frolic in Tycoon’s Pool.”

On Tuesday, Leder released a statement that did not directly address the substance of Romney’s comments, but called him “an old friend.”

“I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to succeed, to improve their lives, and to build even better lives for their children,” Leder said. “I have supported people from both political parties who share this view and make it a priority, even though their ideas on how to achieve it may differ.”

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