First Round: Permira launches space rocket

First Round is very firmly of the opinion that private equity is cool. However, being a realistic magazine intro section, it is also prepared to accept that this is not a truth universally acknowledged. Generally speaking, private equity types can’t tell their parents/partners/children about their day at work when they get home and expect an enthusiastic response.

Which is why February was a month to remember for UK firm Permira. OK, so it recently spent £300 million on Dr. Martens, a brand that undoubtedly has appeal both to bovver boot nostalgics of a certain age and to truculent teenagers who pretend to enjoy themselves hanging out in muddy fields at music festivals. So that might have scored the Permira deal team a few cool points at home (albeit most of them probably wouldn’t be seen dead in DMs personally).

But that all pales into insignificance compared with events on 6 February, when Permira was responsible for launching a real live rocket into space! Well, sort of. To be strictly accurate, the rocket belonged to a company called Arianespace, but the point was to launch a satellite into orbit belonging to ABS, a fixed satellite services operator that Permira has owned since 2010. So at 6.30pm local time somewhere in French Guiana, of all places, about 6 and a bit tons of ABS satellite – plus 3 and a bit tons of an Italian satellite – were safely blasted off, or whatever the equivalent term is en francais (the excited commentator talked a bit too quickly for First Round’s GCSE French).

Better still, the whole thing was streamed live over the internet, and available to watch subsequently on YouTube. Can you imagine the kudos you’d get for coming home from work, hooking up a live stream, and telling your children: “You see that? That’s my space rocket…”