BVCA trebles wages to attract big hitter(3)

The UK private equity industry’s trade body has reportedly trebled the salary on offer to its chief executive, as it attempts to bring in a heavyweight external figure with the contacts and credibility to restore its reputation.

The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association has signalled its determination to bring in a heavyweight replacement for former chief executive Peter Linthwaite by reportedly trebling the salary on offer to the successful candidate.

The Financial Times reports that the UK trade body is willing to pay its new chief executive an annual salary of £350,000 (€515,485; $700,147). It is currently seeking a replacement for Linthwaite, who was forced out in the aftermath of the trade body’s disastrous performance in front of the UK Treasury Select Committee in June.

The search, which is being carried out by headhunting firm Odgers Ray and Berndtson, has short-listed ten candidates, according to the FT. All are from outside the industry, to avoid being tainted with the stigma of the organisation’s recent failings.

The candidates are said to include the former FT editor Andrew Gowers, who is currently co-head of communications at investment bank Lehman Brothers. However, the newspaper reported that its ex-editor “is thought to have some serious questions about the approach”. He is said to have doubts about whether the BVCA can exist as a single entity, rather than splitting into two separate bodies to deal with the large and small ends of the industry, and also about the defensibility of its position on contentious issues like tax.

Alastair Darling, the man who replaced UK prime minister Gordon Brown as chancellor of the exchequer, is currently conducting a review of the industry’s tax treatment, and has been urged by the Select Committee to broaden the remit of its enquiry.

Another contentious issue for the incoming chief executive is likely to be the implementation of the forthcoming Walker Report, which is intended to improve standards of transparency and disclosure, particularly at the large buyout firms.

The BVCA expects to name its choice by November, according to the FT, although industry sources cautioned that the chosen candidate is unlikely to take office until much later, given the likely selection process and notice periods involved.

By the middle of next year the BVCA’s senior team could bear little resemblance to the group mauled by the Select Committee earlier this summer. In addition to Linthwaite’s departure, head of communications Mark Fox has also resigned from the trade body in the last week, while chairman Wol Kolade’s period in office is due to end in March.