Mega-funds will engage more in industry’s fight-back

European private equity firms big and small must not be shy about taking on their critics, says new EVCA chairman Helmut Schühsler at its annual symposium in Rome.

New EVCA chairman and managing partner of TVM, a German venture group, Helmut Schühsler told PrivateEquityOnline in Rome the creation of three distinct platforms within the organisation was necessary to best service the interests of venture capitalists, mid-market buyout funds and mega-funds in Europe. 

Speaking on the fringe of EVCA’s annual symposium in Rome, Schühsler said there was a “positive trend” in terms of the large buyout sponsors becoming more involved in the association’s activities.

“The large firms are now realising that they are facing a big public perception problem and an unprecedented political challenge. They also recognise that EVCA can be part of the solution, and we expect them to send people to sit on the relevant committees within our mega-fund platform and contribute to the work we are doing,” he said
 
Schühsler said that all significant LBO sponsors active in Europe are now members of EVCA.
 
While highlighting the significance of the new three-pillar strategic approach, Schühsler also emphasised that EVCA was not splitting up, and that the association would continue to represent all members as one entity in areas where their interests overlapped.

These areas included professional standards, public and regulatory affairs, PR/communications, investor relations, research, forums, workshops and training.
 
Joining the chorus of private equity professionals calling on their industry to respond to the criticisms against it more effectively, Schühsler said: “The current challenge to private equity is politically motivated, it is not about facts. But there has been hesitation on the part of the industry to fight back. We have to be stronger about our own message. We can’t be shy about it, because [our critics] aren’t shy about it either.”
 
Departing EVCA chairman and managing partner of Mercapital Javier Loizaga said in his opening keynote at the symposium: “It has taken the industry too much time to grasp the intensity of the attacks. We are a force for good, but we still have to make our case.”
 
Loizaga also said that the events in London earlier in the week, when representatives of the British Venture Capital Association clashed with a group of UK parliamentarians in the House of Commons, were a taste of similar confrontations to come in other jurisdictions. Assisting private equity professionals in their preparations for public debates with politicians was one of the many areas in which EVCA could work with its members, he said.

In separate news Peter Linthwaite, chief executive of the BVCA, resigned today, after receiving a verbal mauling in the evidence session before the UK parliamentary committee.