Nicholas Pye, Buyout Guy: The Spy Who Diligenced Me
So I’m guessing most of you have been having sleepless nights wondering exactly what the teeny tiny favour was that my disgraced and disenfranchised boss wanted from me, right?
Well, let me put you out of your misery. Basically, he wants me to spy on Tamara for him.
“It’s not spying, Pye,” he insisted, when I put this to him. “It’s business intelligence. You’re intelligent, aren’t you?”
“Totally. That’s a given. But my point is: you want me to find out what deals she’s lining up, without her noticing. How is that not spying?”
“Because there’s something bigger at stake here. You see, the thing is, Pye – and I didn’t really want to tell you this – I have reason to believe that Tamara isn’t playing by the rules.”
“Really?! You mean… You don’t think she’s skimming fees off portfolio companies, do you?”
“What?” He looks at me incredulously. “Of course she is, Pye. Doesn’t everyone? Surely that’s the one advantage of that ludicrous Greek deal of yours? No, not that.” He looks around surreptitiously, leans across the table, and lowers his voice to a whisper: “I think she’s colluding.”
“Canoodling?! Gosh, who with?”
“Not canoodling, Pye. Colluding.”
“Oh. Sorry. It was the whispering thing. Colluding with who, on what?”
“Exactly what we need to find out. If you can tell me what’s she working on and who with, then I can… You know… Take steps. This is the integrity of Big Shop we’re talking about here, Pye. A scandal involving Tamara would be hugely damaging to the whole firm. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”
“No, clearly not… But wait… You’ve left. Rancorously. What’s in it for you?”
“Pye, you never really leave Big Shop. It stays with you. Like a rash. So if Tamara is being a naughty girl, I want to be there to pick up the pieces. Limit the fall-out. Plus it’ll be good for dealflow. I’d forgotten what a pain in the arse origination is, and I can’t afford to pay some idiot banker to do it for me these days.”
“I see your point, boss. But here’s the thing: I was brought up to follow a very strict moral code. I couldn’t possibly contravene that unless I had some substantial financial inducement.”
My boss laughed loudly. “You know, Pye, one of the things I like best about you – no wait, scratch that – the one thing I like about you is that you’re so incredibly predictab– sorry, let me rephrase … so incredibly reliable in your naked self-interest.”
I blushed from the tips of my Gucci loafers to the top of my Hoxton quiff. It was possibly the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me. “Gosh, thanks, Boss!”
“Here’s what’s in it for you, Pye. Carry. I’m going to cut you into any deals you bring me. Just as a finder’s fee. No action required. In fact, no action encouraged.”
It’s hard to say fairer than that, to be fair.
“Actually, Boss, it’s funny you should mention dealflow, because I’ve got my eye on an nice little add-on for the olive oil business. Well, I say add-on; it’s three times the size. But the synergies are incredible. And Tamara… well, she’s not giving me much encouragement. But if you guys came in as a co-investor…”
He gave me a look like he was trying to inhale an entire lemon through one of his nostrils. “Send me a deck, Pye. I’ll think about it. But in the meantime, you keep your ear close to the ground, OK?”
Anyway, thanks to Private Equity Multinational’s quaint monthly cycle, that was three weeks ago now. And I have to say, despite my best sleuthing efforts, I’ve come up pretty empty so far. Oddly, we haven’t been in a single meeting together in the last month. And when she meets other people, she insists on doing so behind a soundproofed glass wall.
Fear not, though. I have a cunning plan – and it involves an idiot banker…