Saturday, 10 November 2007

Has the private equity bubble burst?

Today's Guardian features an interview with John Moulton from Alchemy in which he claims that a number of recent large buyouts are going to struggle as a result of the credit crunch. The worrying bit is where he talks about private equity houses becoming 'forced sellers of assets'. Given that this is in the context of meeting interest payments I presume he is talking about flogging off bits of recently-acquired businesses rather than the entire businesses themselves. I guess this must be the 'aggressive creativity' DIUS minister Ian Pearson was on about recently.

As an aside I have to say that I have some sympathy with Moulton's take on the Walker review of transparency in the private equity industry. Just getting firms to produce more information doesn't achieve anything by itself:

In the wake of unprecedented public concern, leading buyout firms asked Sir David Walker, a veteran City regulator, to look at issues of transparency in private equity businesses. He is due to report his findings this month, but Mr Moulton has already been dismissive of his likely recommendations. "The most likely outcome is some voluntary code for larger companies to write something in their annual accounts that will be read by no one anyway," he said.

No comments: