Join the village people

The 600 residents of idyllic village Albourne in Sussex, England enjoy a slice of quintessentially bucolic village life, surrounded by the outstanding natural beauty of the South Downs and steeped in history, with buildings dating back to the 17th century. Since 2000, however, the sleepy village has been the unlikely host to a throng of thrusting alternative investment types.

The reason for this? A global alternative investment adviser, named Albourne Partners (after the original village), built a virtual web-based Albourne for the global hedge fund community to convene and network. One should perhaps expect this kind of innovation from the organisers of rock festival-cum-networking event, Hedgestock.

About two years ago, Albourne also established an online private equity equivalent, where members of the buyout world could meet to share a drink in the local pub, The Lock Inn, visit the village church to discuss charity and social issues, or – as may be proving increasingly popular – visit the local job centre. The population of the online villages has long since surpassed that of their real-world Sussex namesake; nearly 70,000 private equity and hedge fund members have now taken up residency at village.albourne.com.

PEI was recently lucky enough to share a glass of champagne with the online village mayor – in real life – and found out that the villages are to receive a facelift in 2009 to bring them up to date with the Twitter and Facebook generation. With the regulatory forces of the European Parliament threatening to invade and occupy the green and pleasant land of alternative investments, perhaps the mayoral office should be investing in the village defences too.

QUOTABLES
“It's pretty clear that ethics and transparency were not the hallmark of Alan Hevesi's tenure.”

From a statement released by current New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli commenting on the tenure of former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who resigned in 2006 amid a corruption scandal. The funds and placement agents Hevesi committed capital to recently came to light

“Apart from being a real burden for our funds, this would represent useless cost and an inefficient and unnecessary new layer. We will have to fight against this.”

Monique Saulnier, managing partner and chief financial officer at Paris-based venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners, comments to PEI on a demand in the EC Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers for independent valuation of private equity investments (see p. 12)

“The proposal has been drawn up hastily without proper consultation, and in many ways looks like a classic EU compromise. It therefore satisfies neither side of the debate, by increasing the regulatory burden on property, hedge and private equity funds (to howls of complaint in the City) without directly regulating the funds themselves (to equally loud complaints from MEPs).”

Rob Moulton, a financial service regulatory partner at law firm Nabarro, commenting on the same Directive in a statement

“Now is the time for bankruptcy experts to puff out their chests.”

Jonathan Bergman, chief investment officer at New York-based investment management firm Palisades Hudson Asset Management, quoted in the UK's Guardian newspaper. He says the time is right to acquire control positions of businesses out of bankruptcy