Helping hand(3)

The Walker Report has given the Delta Two bid for J Sainsbury an extra sheen of respectability and is a sign the industry may take compliance seriously, writes Nicholas Lockley, editor of PEO.

Nicholas Lockley

It is a measure perhaps of how much the brouhaha which surrounded private equity this summer has subsided that the first explicit adoption of the Walker Report on transparency and disclosure has passed mostly unremarked.

Nonetheless Sir David Walker will be delighted Delta Two, a Qatari fund, has offered to comply with his report's recommendations in its attempt to persuade UK retailer J Sainsbury’s board to open its books.

The appeal is a blatant one to help the sovereign fund overcome accusations of shadowy secrecy.

It is a triumph for Walker on a number of levels. His report was aimed at the UK private equity industry, but here is Delta Two, a Qatar state fund, promising to adopt the standards. Walker had hoped this would be a logical consequence of the report.

As he put it “location is in the mind” and if a portfolio company’s business was in the UK then compliance would be expected, even if the manager’s presence in the UK was limited or even non-existent.

Walker also hoped his standards would be embraced by a wider community of privately capitalised business and not just institutional private equity funds. Sovereign funds are just the kind of grey area where Walker hopes to shed light.

Delta Two’s adoption is a sensible move and makes for good PR. As far as the J Sainsbury board is concerned it ticks the right boxes. Walker will be keen to see it does not become a box-ticking exercise, if the bid succeeds.

Compliance also underlines the momentum Walker’s report still has despite the calming of the media storm. The lessons of the summer have not been forgotten. Walker looks like a runner.

To see a panel discussion of the Walker Report with Sir David Walker himself, 3's Philip Yea and the BVCA's Wol Kolade among others, click here.