Lowenstein to fight ’knowledge gap’

In his first public comments, the leader of the newly established Private Equity Council said he hopes to avoid the hostility that the industry has faced abroad by educating Washington policymakers about its activities. The lobbying group also named a new vice president today.

Douglas Lowenstein, the president and chief executive officer of the recently formed US lobbying group the Private Equity Council, wants to help fill the “knowledge gap” that Washington policymakers have of the private equity industry, he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Lowenstein, formerly the president of the US video game industry lobbying group Entertainment Software Association, wants to prove that private equity does in fact benefit the entire US economy. His efforts come as the industry faces multiple challenges from regulators, including a reported interest from the US Senate Finance Committee in exploring whether carried interest should be subject to a higher tax rate. 

“The level of understanding of private equity in policy circles is extremely low,” he told the FT. “There is both a lack of understanding and a lack of knowledge and either of them is problematic from a public policy standpoint.”

Lowenstein also pointed out that he wants to avoid the kind of open hostility toward the private equity industry that has been seen in the UK and in Europe.

The Private Equity Council has plans to compile research that will back up its claim that the economy benefits from private equity. It will not, however, lobby for individuals deals, Lowenstein told the FT.

Formed in December of 2006, the Private Equity Council includes Apollo Management, Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Silver Lake  PartnersTexas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners. The council was largely the result of efforts by Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein, who has criticised the private equity industry for not communicating with the public and with policy makers.

In related news, the Private Equity Council has appointed Steve Judge to be its vice president for government affairs. Judge joins the group from the Securities Industry Association, where he was senior vice president of government affairs and head of its Washington office. He will work with Lowenstein to help educate government policymakers about private equity, the council said in a statement.