Nicholas Pye, Buyout Guy: A slip twixt cup and lip

So it looks like we may have a problem. Just a teeny, tiny, tiddly problem; nothing I can’t handle, you understand. But it does rather look like Tamara, my boss, has worked out that I’ve been illegally hacking into her emails in order to pass confidential information to a third party outside the firm, presumably in exchange for financial inducements of some kind. Whoops!!

Here’s what happened. So I finally get my face time with the Canadians, after all these months of Tamara prevaricating. Breakfast at the Wolseley, and I’m feeling sharper than that knife they have in those Philip Pullman books that can literally cut through the fabric of the universe. They, on the other hand, got delayed for about five hours in [er, wherever they live in Canada – subs to check] and then got diverted via Amsterdam or somewhere by a hurricane, so they barely know which way is up.

Still, they perk up a bit after a couple of waffles, and start quizzing me about my olive oil business. So I explain very carefully why the fact that revenues are 67 percent behind plan for the year is the clearest possible indicator that our strategic value-add initiatives are working. Then they ask whether I’m worried about the latest signs that the Greek economy is going pear-shaped, so I explain that I’m not, because this is a contrarian play. And we talk about that for a bit. Textbook stuff.

I’m playing the long game here, you see. I love Big Shop – but one day, I want my name embossed on the door in massive gold letters. If Big Shop aren’t willing to do that, despite the billions in equity I’ll have made it by then, this little songbird is going to have to find a deep-pocketed cornerstone LP and fly. And sing. Or maybe fly then sing. Either way, the point is: this breakfast was not just about the here and now; it was about the future Pye & Co. (Not Pye Capital Partners – that would be SO lower mid-market).

After a while, the conversation moves onto future dealflow. I grasp the opportunity to tell them about my Theme, but Tamara, unusually for her, is relatively quiet. “Everything’s pretty rich for our blood at the moment,” she tells them, glancing at me slightly uncomfortably. “Perhaps we can catch up offline later and I’ll run you through the pipeline in more detail.”

“Tamara’s too modest,” I chip in eagerly. “What about Project Catflap? Tell them about Catflap!” Wired on a heady combination of triple espresso and my own brilliance, it didn’t really occur to me that mentioning the secret new deal I’d read about on her email was a bit impolitic. Tamara looks slightly horrified, and changes the subject rapidly.
Afterwards, in the cab back to the office, I say: “That went well, I thought. I’m pretty sure they’re looking for a bigger piece of my olive oil deal, you know.”

She lets out that semi-snort I’ve come to know and love. “Wouldn’t bet on it, Pye. I can only assume they were here to establish whether you were a total genius, or a complete simpleton. And I think it’s fair to say you put that debate to bed this morning, once and for all.”

She can say the sweetest things sometimes.
“Oh, and Pye? How do you know about Catflap?”
“Catflap? Erm… I think I saw something on the printer about it.”

“No, you didn’t, Pye. I wouldn’t have printed out anything that confidential.”

“Oh. Right… Well, I must have heard someone gossiping about it in the office.”

“I doubt that, because nobody else knows about it. In fact, the only conversation I’ve
had about it is over email with the bank.”


Still, no big deal. Knowing her, she’ll have forgotten about it by next week. ?