Net margins

Private equity types don’t get out much. Or at least that seemed to be the implicit assumption of the promotional material for ‘Clash of the Private Equity Titans’, an intra-industry ping-pong tournament staged recently in New York. “It’s time to trade EBITDA multiples, IRR calculations and financial models for ping-pong paddles!” screamed the advert for the event, leaving observers in no doubt as to how it thinks buyout folk normally spend their Wednesday evenings.

Now, catching up for a spot of table-tennis might sound like the kind of thing First Round used to do at its local youth club aged 12 (just before treating itself to a Cherry Coke and staring wistfully at that unattainable girl in the year above). But it’s apparently all the rage in NYC these days, thanks in no small part to the emergence of SPiN, a chain of high-end ‘ping-pong social club’ part-owned by Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, of Thelma & Louise fame. Which is, presumably, how it could get away with charging a $500 entrance fee to each of the 48 two-person teams (though fear not – all the proceeds went to the Parkinson’s charity established by another Hollywood star, Michael J. Fox).

Sadly we can’t confirm whether the divine Ms. Sarandon was there in person to lend her support (our guess is she figured the assembled crowd was more into its bull markets than its Bull Durhams). But she’ll be hoping that private equity involvement doesn’t signal the top of the market for high-end ping pong.