The official line is that private equity and hedge fund professionals enjoy a benign relationship – friendly, even. Many have been the times in recent years that buyout protagonists, on being asked whether they consider hedge funds a competitive threat, have pointed to the latter's wholly welcomed participation in financing structures. Not so much deal rivals, in fact, as deal enablers.
We at PEI recognise spin when we see it. After all, the hedge fund ‘fight nite’ – now an annual event in London – sees the heavy hitters from the hedge fund and private equity ranks head off to the boxing ring to try and bash each other senseless.
Now, it appears, they may just have found a new competitive arena. In January, the Private Equity Foundation (PEF) was launched at a gala dinner. Attendees including representatives from LBO firms such as KKR and Permira proudly announced the launch of a £5.1 million fund to support charities serving children.
Fast forward to the summer and the hedge fund industry's Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) charity staged its own gala dinner, playing host to celebrity guests such as Jemima Khan, Bob Geldof and Liz Hurley. An auction selling lots such as dinner with Mikhail Gorbachev and a day on the set of the new James Bond movie raised the princely sum of £26.6 million.
We draw no conclusion from the above, other than that the laudable efforts of both the PEF and ARK deserve nothing but praise. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what the PEF thinks up next – and whether it's thinking even bigger.