PHILANTHROPISTS MEET

The European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) continues to grow rapidly. Established in January 2004 by a handful of highly motivated private equity professionals, it has signed up more than 75 members and reaches an increasingly sizeable and international audience of like-minded practitioners. Its mission: to help venture capitalists and nonprofit organisations meet and work together in order to maximise social impact on charitable causes.

On 25 October, 350 delegates from 30 countries attended EVPA's fourth annual symposium at IESE Business School in Madrid to discuss how financial folk, charity executives and social entrepreneurs can find common ground and establish a modus operandi between the relevant parties that amalgamates their respective skill sets and experience.

EVPA sees itself as a facilitator of the requisite dialogue – and takes the view that its work has only just begun. Chairman Doug Miller told the conference: “We are at the start of the road. There clearly is huge interest in venture philanthropy. Our challenge is to translate it into engagement and engagement into meaningful impact. It's an encouraging work in progress.”

To get the work done, members of EVPA are keen to avoid some of the negative experiences in the US at the beginning of the decade when the venture philanthropy concept was first gaining currency: overly enthusiastic financial professionals were at times greeted by sceptical charities accustomed to radically different working practices.

radically different working practices. David Carrington, a leading philanthropic thinker and practitioner in Britain, told the conference: “Venture philanthropists need to demonstrate humility about what they have to offer. Both sides need to learn from one another and make a commitment to understand each other's worlds. They must always see their co-operation as a genuine joint venture.” For more details about the conference, visit www.evpa.eu.com. Next year's event will be held in Frankfurt.

BLANK TO ADVISE TPG IN UK
TPG has appointed Sir Victor Blank as the firm's senior advisor in the UK. Blank, 64, remains chairman of UK bank Lloyds TSB Group. Until last year he was also chairman of retailer GUS and UK newspaper group Trinity Mirror. He is also a private equity veteran. After a career in law at Clifford Chance forerunner Clifford Turner, where he became the firm's youngest partner in 1969, Blank joined Charterhouse as head of corporate finance. He later became chairman and chief executive from 1985 until 1996. Charterhouse was one of the first banks to be involved in the development capital and private equity markets and was active in the some large corporate finance deals of the 1980s and 1990s. Blank left before the bank's buyout team won its independence in 2001, under the leadership of Gordon Bonnyman. Blank was also a director of The Royal Bank of Scotland from 1985 to 1993. At TPG he joins other European country advisors including Bernard Attali in France, Davide Croff in Italy, Alfonso Cortina in Spain and Ludolf von Wartenberg in Germany.

BRANSON CALLS FOR TAPER RELIEF U-TURN
UK billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has said he believes UK Chancellor Alistair Darling should step back from his plans to remove taper relief on capital gains tax, which allows entrepreneurs to pay just 10 percent tax on a business asset held for two years, rather than 40 percent. Branson wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown after Virgin Group carried out a survey of 100 fast-track companies in the UK in conjunction with newspaper The Times, which revealed opposition to the proposed reform, according to Branson's spokesman. Branson said Darling should instead extend the holding period for the relief from two to perhaps five years. This is in contrast to the Chancellor's plans to scrap taper relief and instead implement an 18 percent flat rate, revealed in his Pre-Budget Report in October. This has caused widespread outcry from business lobby groups, entrepreneurs and other beneficiaries of taper relief, which allows some individuals to pay as little as 5 percent on capital gains.

BALDERTON HIRES TECH VETERAN
Balderton Capital, the UK venture capital firm, has hired Roberto Bonanzinga as a partner. Bonanzinga has spent 15 years working with entrepreneurs in the US and in Europe as a founder, manager, non-executive director and adviser. Before joining Balderton, Bonanzinga held various senior positions, including roles at Jaiku, a social network acquired by Google, and Balderton portfolio company Pageflakes. Bonanzinga plans to use his experience guiding start-up businesses in the US and Europe to assist companies in Balderton's portfolio and help the firm in making new investments.

TONN SPEARHEADS VESTAR GERMAN EFFORT
Vestar Capital Partners, a global private equity firm, has hired Jens Tonn, a former partner at Candover, to lead its new German office. Tonn spent nine years at Candover where most recently he was managing director of its German operation. Daniel Boege is also joining as a vice president after five years with Permira. Starting with a team of four based in Munich, Tonn will develop the private equity company's business in the German-speaking region. Vestar currently manages funds of approximately $7 billion (€4.8 billion) and provides capital for management buyout and growth capital investments. It invests in businesses in the US, Europe and Asia with valuations ranging from $100 million to $5 billion. The firm currently has European teams in Paris and Milan.

SVG CAPITAL ADDS TWO DIRECTORS
UK fund of funds manager SVG Capital has appointed James Witter and Sharad Rathke as directors in its marketing and corporate finance teams respectively. Witter will work alongside Simon Lund on the development, marketing and distribution of private equity products. Rathke will have responsibility for the origination, structuring and development of products. Witter has more than 20 years' experience within the financial markets, joining SVG from Japanese bank Nomura, where he was head of UK and Ireland, Global Markets Europe. Before this, he was head of private equity capital markets at the bank. Rathke was previously a senior director in KPMG's London private equity group, advising UK and European firms on large buyouts. The appointments follow three additions to SVG's private equity fund selection team in September.