Boris Johnson praises private equity

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that private equity was ‘absolutely vital’ to the UK economy, at the opening of a private equity-funded East London community centre this Friday. Johnson was speaking to an audience of volunteers from private equity firms, charity sector representatives and local residents.

The Mayor of London has praised the private equity industry as a vital part of the UK economy in a speech at the opening of the Rokeby Community Links Centre, a new community facility funded by venture philanthropy organisation the Private Equity Foundation.

He said that as part of the financial services sector, “private equity is absolutely vital to the UK economy and we would be mad to punish it through over-regulation”.

Johnson was delivering his speech to a group of over 80 volunteers from the private equity industry, as well as charity representatives and local residents, at an event to mark the opening of a new community centre in Newham, East London.

Boris Johnson

The Private Equity Foundation, which funded the new centre, is a UK-based venture philanthropy firm backed by over 70 private equity firms and their advisers, including Texas Pacific Group, Cinven, The Blackstone Group and Apax Partners.  Its goal is to “empower young people to reach their full potential”.

PEF provides charities with both funding and pro bono business advice. It worked with London-based charity Community Links to build the new community centre, which will give local children a safe place to play and a base for the charity’s operations in one of London’s most deprived boroughs.

PEF gathered a team of over 80 volunteers from the private equity industry to spend a day adding the finishing touches to the community centre on Friday.

Stephen Peel, vice-chairman of the Private Equity Foundation and a partner at Texas Pacific Group in London, said that PEF had welcomed the challenge of taking a “hands-on” role in the centre’s construction, rather than just providing pro bono business advice. He added that the volunteers’ contribution had saved around £100,000 (€126,000; $172,000) in contractors fees.

Boris Johnson has a number of connections with the private equity industry. In August this year Tim Parker, formerly of CVC Capital Partners, resigned his position as First Deputy Mayor but continues to advise the Mayor’s office on business matters.

Johnson has also recruited Sir Trevor Chinn, the former chairman of listed private equity firm Aurora Russia, to chair the newly launched Mayor’s Fund for London.