1) Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
No one has better symbolised the push for more European regulation of private equity than Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (right). The Danish national has spearheaded EU proposals that would increase disclosure requirements and impose billions in compliance costs. During a recent meeting in front of 300 hedge fund and private equity executives, he repeatedly described himself as the industry's “bogeyman”.
2) Chuck Grassley
The US is also facing increased regulation. The process began earlier this year with a bill introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley that would require funds with $50 million or more in assets to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Grassley is well-known to US fund managers after they previously thwarted his 2007 proposal to increase tax on carried interest.
3) John Edwards
At the time of the Grassley tax proposal, the issue of fund manager compensation found itself part of the 2008 US election thanks to failed Democratic candidate John Edwards. Despite making nearly half a million dollars as a Fortress Investment Group adviser, Edwards claimed it was wrong to tax managers “at a lower rate than their secretaries”.
4) Franz Müntefering
Even some of private equity's biggest critics would not go as far as declaring GPs to be “swarms of locusts”, as German vice chancellor Franz Müntefering (left) did in 2005. Such comments contributed to the delicate political situation foreign firms were forced to navigate in Germany as they invested $35 billion in the country that year.
5) Robert Greenwald
KKR co-founder Henry Kravis is unlikely to be a big fan of cartoon character “Larry the Loophole”, which depicted him as the private equity industry's face of greed. The attack on Kravis in 2008 was part of a broader anti-private equity campaign by Robert Greenwald, a political activist and documentarian who had previously taken on Wal Mart and Rupert Murdoch.
6) Andy Stern
The US Service Employees International Union and its president Andy Stern (above right) stepped up their attack on the buyout industry in 2009. This included an attempt to organise 100 simultaneous demonstrations around the world, launching a “global day of action” targeted at KKR, and booing a speech by Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. At a conference in New York, Stern found himself sparring with Bear Sterns Merchant Banking executive Gwyneth Ketterer, who pointed to the benefits the asset class provided to union members.
7) Paul Kenny
In 2007, Permira managing partner Damon Buffini found himself the target of a personal campaign by the GMB union over job cuts at two of Permira's investments. It included taking a camel to Buffini's local church in London to illustrate the biblical parable about the dangers of wealth. Following a meeting between GMB general secretary Paul Kenny and Buffini, the two sides declared a public truce.
8) Alistair Darling
The UK has seen a number of hedge funds and private equity executives like Terra Firma's Guy Hands flee the country this year due to tax increases implemented by Alistair Darling, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer. The latest hike from 40 percent to 50 percent on income for those earning more than £150,000 (€167,000; $251,000) per year was criticised by some as pandering to populist sentiment.
9) Saul Meyer
The arrest of Aldus Equity founder Saul Meyer for his role in a farreaching pay-to-play scandal triggered a domino effect that continues to have consequences for the industry. Firms including The Carlyle Group, Riverstone Holdings, Pacific Corporate Group, HM Capital, Falconhead Capital and Levine Leichtman Capital Partners have paid fines to the New York state attorney general's office to resolve their involvement in the scandal, while Meyer's actions also led to a proposed US ban on placement agents that the industry is now trying to block.
10) John Travolta
Private equity villains can even be found in the movies these days. The industry's image wasn't advanced among moviegoers who sat through this summer's “The Taking of Pelham 123”, in which John Travolta's (left) subway hijacker was revealed to be a former private equity executive. Travolta's character could have been modeled on Saul Meyer (see entry above), as the film had him arrested for defrauding a New York City pension fund.