Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny was looking forward to the challenge of heading up the new London office of Northgate Capital, the California-based fund of funds manager he joined in November. He dreamt of introducing the firm to important new sources of finance and top private equity managers.

But then, all of a sudden, his reverie was disturbed. This had nothing to do with Northgate's prospects of success in its new territory. Instead, it was caused by a mysterious sound emanating from the street below: a sound not unlike a cat being slowly strangled.

Peering from his office window in 1 Jermyn Street, Khajeh-Hosseiny's eyes came to rest upon the murder of a musical instrument rather than that of a feline. The noise polluter was in fact a Scottish piper out to extract coins from the pockets of unwary tourists by regaling them with traditional tunes.

Khajeh-Hosseiny says he and his colleagues enjoy the rush of energy they feel when they step outside the office at lunchtime into the heart of the pulsing West End. But he acknowledges that, in the case of an over-enthusiastic (and out of tune) street performer, there's a fine line to be crossed between entertainment and torture.

He says a solution has been arrived at though. Every time he appears, the piper is paid off to go and ply his trade elsewhere. Both parties are happy: Northgate has peace, the piper has cash, and Khajeh-Hosseiny can get on with finding suitable investment opportunities. Only one potential problem occurs to Private Equity International: when LPs find out about this cosy arrangement, will they be straight on the phone asking about injudicious use of management fees?

A major research center focused on private equity has a new chairman who knows a thing or two about the topic. Renny Smith, a managing director at TH Lee Partners (an affiliate of Boston's Thomas H. Lee Partners), was recently named chairman of the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.

Smith replaces John Foster, a managing director of merchant bank HealthPoint who, in 1998, provided seed funding for the Tuck Center. The Center, led by professors Fred Wainwright and Colin Blaydon, has done groundbreaking research into venture capital valuation, corporate governance and entrepreneurship.

Smith himself received his MBA from Tuck Business School in 1983 and is now charged with, among other things, recruiting more supporters for the programme. The Center's executive advisory board already has some private equity heavy hitters, many of them Tuck alumni, including Peter Barris of New Enterprise Associates (Tuck 1977); Paul Raether of KKR (Tuck 1973); Frederick Maynard of HarbourVest (Tuck 1985); and Bruce Rauner of GTCR Golder Rauner, who attended Dartmouth as an undergraduate but received his MBA from Harvard – a fact that none of Rauner's fellow advisory board members appear to hold against him.