LPEQ plans global expansion – Exclusive

The listed private equity association has plans to double membership in the next 12 months.

LPEQ, the international association of listed private equity companies, has unveiled new growth plans to its members that include expanding its membership to include members of the advisory community and broadening its geographical reach.

LPEQ currently has 16 members listed on its website, the majority of which are listed in the UK. Chief executive officer Douwe Cosijn and newly-appointed chairman Mark Florman, former chief executive of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, have set a target of doubling that membership in the next 12 months.

“I think that’s ambitious, I want to be ambitious, I want to leverage the relationships that we have to deepen the membership base, and I think there’s very clear commitment from the members and the board to do so,” Cosijn said in an interview with Private Equity International. “If you look at the universe of potential members, it’s well in excess of 100 members in the listed space, albeit in a whole range of different forms.”

As part of its new strategy, the LPEQ board will also create a committee structure.

Florman told PEI the aim was for the organisation “to represent all of the listed private equity funds within Europe, but also to look beyond Europe” to the US, Asia and the emerging markets.

“Our hope is that LPEQ will grow quite substantially, both with listed private equity members and with other members, associated members, law firms, accountants, public relations firms and others can become members, and then we create a community, and that community helps itself and each other to represent why investors should look at listed private equity,” Florman said.

Florman took up the role as chair on 6 September, replacing Tim Spence, the finance director at Graphite Capital, who was appointed to the role in July 2015. He is the first chair to be appointed from outside LPEQ’s membership, and the organisation’s first paid appointment.

“I think it just is an indication of the board and the membership’s ambition of trying to take the organisation from the founders and the founding members to a new level,” Cosijn said.

Florman said LPEQ “would like to bring private equity to millions of people” by educating smaller investors and families on how they can participate in private equity through the listed space.

“With uncertainty, with markets which both fall and rise, private equity comes into its own. And I can’t see why smaller investors, individual investors in particular, should be excluded from this,” he said.

“Listed private equity is a means by which they can participate in the skills of private equity management and investment techniques.”

Cosijn said sophisticated, public institutional investors are increasingly interested in private equity as they realise “access to private companies that are being managed for growth, performance and returns is something that is extremely complementary to the more passive engagement with the public markets through public equities”.

LPEQ, he says, can play an important role as a bridge between private equity and these investors, working to address specific concerns they may have, such as investing in blind pools and individual investors’ needs for liquidity.

“The key is just to focus LPEQ on engaging actively across the existing membership, grow the substance of the organisation, make it the most attractive organisation that it can possibly be, that people want to be a member of and can absolutely see the value of being a member of,” Cosijn said.

“It is about the knowledge-sharing, the interaction. That creates a dynamic ecosystem whereby people will actually want to engage.”