In this month's Privately Speaking interview with Industri Kapital's Björn Savén, we refer to the new mood in private equity. Part of that relates to the attitude investors have towards the asset class as a whole ? and to an extent towards certain types of fund in particular. Because in these tougher economic times, where markets have had to deal with massive terrorist attacks, a war as well as the cyclical stresses and strains of postindustrial economies, firms who specialise in buying big assets in mature sectors based in these markets have got a lot to do. That's why this issue also sees us look at corporate restructuring, or to use the more affirmative term: turnarounds.
These are testing times for all owners of corporate assets, but especially so for those whose declared objective it is to add value to such assets as part of their ownership. In this context, it is interesting to note the results of a survey by accounting and consulting firm KPMG last month concerning private equity firms' management of their portfolio companies. The survey found that ?there is an increased willingness on the part of PE houses to intervene in the management of portfolio companies. The majority of respondents regret not having acted earlier where problems have arisen in the past, and are more inclined to take a radical approach where necessary as a result of the experience.? Taking radical approaches requires skill besides confidence, especially when the difference between success and failure is life and death (for the portfolio company). We therefore went out to meet the firms who are making a speciality of turning companies around ? sometimes for themselves but more often for their private equity clients.
We also wanted to hear from Harvard's Professor Josh Lerner about the research he and professor Antoinette Schoar of the Sloan School of Management at MIT are undertaking on private equity's distinctive character in emerging markets. Their findings are going to help better define investment best practice in these developing economies. You will also find a detailed look in this issue of how private equity has taken root in the Middle East, where religious principles have helped shape a growing industry. All of these features illustrate one key point: the adaptability of the asset class.
Philip BorelManaging Editor