For the first time since its inception, The European Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (EVCA) has elected an LP as its chairman.
George Anson, a managing director at HarbourVest, has replaced outgoing chairman Vincenzo Morelli. The succession took place at EVCA’s 30th Anniversary Symposium in Istanbul on Thursday.
The EVCA is “at an important crossroads”, Anson said, according to a statement. “Private equity fund managers become regulated by the EU this year and have gained recognition as essential drivers of growth through their active investments in European companies. The spotlight now turns to private equity’s investors and how regulatory change will impact them,” he said.
As chairman, Anson will seek to build “on a strong platform of over 100 LP members to encourage openness, transparency and the highest standards of governance through adherence to the EVCA Handbook of Professional Standards”, an annually updated set of guidelines governing the whole industry, he added.
“A lot of the public perception is that the EVCA is only about the general partners and the manager’s perspective. Of the 700 members, over a 100 are LPs. It’s true that this is the first time the EVCA has had an LP chairman, but it has always been a significant part of the membership total,” Anson told Private Equity International.
My main aim is trying to ensure that any rules or regulations that we have to play by are proportionate and not a reaction to the belief that private equity or other alternatives are the cause of financial decline or a systemic risk – as the phrase has been used
EVCA members are “probably very comfortable” with him as chairman “because they understand the argument that I can see both sides”, he said.
Anson plans to “bring home the message to policymakers that as well as driving increased innovation, productivity and competitiveness in thousands of European companies, millions of Europe’s pensioners and savers are benefitting from the returns delivered by private equity,” he said.
“My main aim is trying to ensure that any rules or regulations that we have to play by are proportionate and not a reaction to the belief that private equity or other alternatives are the cause of financial decline or a systemic risk – as the phrase has been used. My big wish is for everybody to look at it in an objective way and not to be [influenced] too much by the fear factor that may be entering the market at certain times,” Anson said.
It’s “immensely important” that everybody understands how private equity works, he noted. “It’s not like buying a stock and selling it – there’s a lot more to it than that,” he said. “There’s always more that we could be doing,” he admitted and said, “We have to make sure the message is clear and backed up with good facts and research.”
Outgoing chairman Morelli said Anson’s appointment is “a clear sign that the EVCA represents the whole of European private equity”. During his tenure, progress has been made in many areas, he said.
“The EVCA contributed significantly to the debate of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive and its implementation,” he said. The continued debate over prudential reserve rules for investments by insurance and pension funds will now be led by Anson, he added, “who, as an investor, represents the group most directly affected by these changes.”
Anson, who joined HarbourVest in 1990, sits on the advisory boards of funds managed by BC Partners, IK Investment Partners and Cinven. He is an inaugural member of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) and also an inaugural member of the EVCA LP Platform Council. Prior to HarbourVest, Anson spent seven years at Pantheon, where he managed European private equity funds and companies.