Although few will claim that private equity has yet become institutionalised as an asset class, many more will agree that private equity is growing up fast. This does not simply refer to the capital now available to be deployed by general partners that, along with the hefty amounts of leverage available to supplement this [see this issue's cover story], means that any asset, anywhere is within their reach. Private equity's rapid evolution also refers to the increasing sophistication and operational robustness of private equity firms themselves. Managing the modern private equity firm obliges specific individuals to engage with key personnel, administration, investor relations, technology and compliance issues in order to maximise the efficient running of their company.
Over 300 of the private equity professionals charged with these tasks gathered in a snowy New York in mid-January to attend the inaugural North American Private Equity COO and CFO Forum hosted by Private Equity International. Speakers included David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group, Elizabeth Varley Camp of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, William Franklin of Bank of America Capital Corporation, Arlett Tygesen of ILPA and Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group. As the accompanying photographs evidence, this was a sell-out event where for the first time this community within private equity could meet and discuss the issues they face. Put the 2005 dates in your diary.