BVCA says it won’t split(4)

The battered UK trade organisation says it needs “sharper focus” but intends to remain a single organisation representing VCs, mid-market groups and big LBO funds under one roof.

The British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), as part of an ongoing review of its organisational structure, has found that its members favour it to “remain a single organisation led by a high quality CEO”.

BVCA vice chairman Jeremy Hand said in a letter today that the association also wants to be “much more focused on servicing the specific needs of the different sectors of our industry”.

Hand wrote the BVCA should be reshaped and use sector committees to represent venture capitalists, enterprise funds, mid-market buyout groups and large LBO firms. These groups should work alongside the existing technical committees and the executive team.

The ongoing search for a new chief executive was progressing well, Hands said in an interview with PEO. “We have had tremendous interest from very strong candidates,” he said, declining to make any predictions as to when a new CEO would be in place.

The review is being carried out in order to improve operations at the lobbying group, which earlier this year came under intense pressure from both its members and UK politicians. In a public meeting with parliamentarians investigating the impact of private equity on the British economy, a BVCA delegation performed poorly, and chief executive Peter Linthwaite resigned soon after. His replacement remains a task of urgency for the association.

The decision to continue as a single body is significant because there has been a debate over whether large LBO funds and other types of private equity provider, given their disparate agendas and requirements, can be sensibly represented by just one lobbyist. In the US, large LBO firms have created their own representative body.

The European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) earlier this year opted to divide its focus into three core groups, though it will still lobby across the board where issues are common.

The BVCA’s review process continues. PricewaterhouseCoopers will be hosting “feedback sessions” for member firms to make their views known. The BVCA expects to complete the process in the “coming weeks”.