Monday, 29 October 2007

Strange quote on private equity from innovation minister

I just spotted the quote below on the DIUS website from innovation minister Ian Pearson. Clearly the private equity industry has been maligned recently but it's a bit of an open question as to whether it is 'unfair' or not. For example, private equity has been characterised as full of asset-stripping, cost-cutting cowboys. Whilst this maybe an exaggeration there's no smoke without fire - see the Terra Firma/EMI spat over pensions for example. Or the Work Foundation report which highlights the negative attitude private equity backed businesses have to unions.

But I'm more interested in the "vested interests" bit. Who is he on about here, and why isn't it made clear? My initial suspicion would be that it's a dig at TUs, but maybe it is also at public companies who have had a pop at PE, perhaps in part because they have felt harried by PE funds. That might explain the "aggressively creative" label he puts on private equity.

Private equity is a key part of the life-blood of the UK's innovation ecosystem. It has been unfairly maligned, often by those with vested interests. While there are issues the industry needs to address, private equity is an aggressively creative force in our economy. It is a source of our competitive advantage as a nation and we lead in Europe with the breadth and depth of the venture capital resources we offer.

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