Wednesday, 20 June 2007

PS - hedge funds

The GMB is clearly on a roll as a result of its campaigning on private equity. It's now also having a pop at that other controversial asset class - hedge funds. The bit below is from the FT, full article here. Would be good if the GMB follows Unison's lead and commits some resource to workers' capital activity.

Hedge fund working group is just 'window dressing'
By James Mackintosh in London and Bertrand Benoit in Berlin

Published: June 20 2007 03:00 | Last updated: June 20 2007 03:00

A hedge fund working group set up to examine voluntary standards for the industry was dismissed as "window dressing" yesterday by the head of the GMB union, which has led the campaign against the private equity industry.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said the government should probe the sector, not leave it to set its own standards.

But the creation of the working group - to be run by Sir Andrew Large, former deputy governor of the Bank of England - was welcomed by Germany and the European Central Bank, both of which have been pushing for greater hedge fund transparency.

Peer Steinbr├╝ck, German finance minister, claimed credit for the move, saying: "Without the process started by us, we would possibly have not had such a step at this time."

The ECB said it was "in line with the approach proposed" by its president, Jean-Claude Trichet.

Mr Kenny, who appears in front of the Treasury select committee today, has emerged as the head of a coalition of unions and politicians pushing for a clampdown on private equity, after a series of job losses following leveraged buy-outs.

He has also been critical of the role of hedge funds in pushing for the break-up or sale of groups. Yesterday Mr Kenny told the FT that voluntary standards for hedge funds were "window dressing of little value".

"It is inevitable that government will have to look at the long-term impact that hedge funds have on the economy," he said. "Maybe it is time to get the clippers out to prune the hedge funds."

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