Private Equity Foundation to merge with Impetus

The industry-backed charity is joining forces with venture philanthropy group Impetus Trust, in a bid to 'massively scale up' their impact.

The Private Equity Foundation, a charity funded by the industry, and Impetus Trust, a venture philanthropy group, have revealed plans to merge.

The combined group – to be known as 'Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation' – will be led by Impetus chief executive Daniela Barone Soares and chaired by PEF chairman Johannes Huth, whose 'day job' is head of Europe for KKR. Palamon managing partner Louis Elsom, who previously acted as chairman of Impetus, will be deputy chairman. PEF chief executive Shaks Ghosh is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

Barone Soares told Private Equity International that the specific strategy of the new group has not been finalised yet. But it is likely to have a slightly broader remit than PEF, which focused specifically on NEETs (young people not in education, employment or training). Instead, the new group will look at any charities related to children and young people. This already constitutes a large part of the Impetus portfolio, she said: the group has developed a particular experience in early years charities, and manages the £135 million Education Endowment Foundation alongside educational charity The Sutton Trust.

Our aim was to create a one-stop-shop for the engaged giving of money and skills.

Daniela Barone Soares

However, the approach of the new group will remain the same: a venture philanthopy model, which involves identifying “best in class” charities and providing them with the capital, expertise and pro bono support they need to scale.

Scale was also the driving force behind this merger, Barone Soares said. “It's very unusual for two charities to merge from a position of strength, but our aim was to create a one-stop-shop for the engaged giving of money and skills.

“These were two organisations with big ambitions, which were both growing fast. But the problem is so big – there are 1.6 million children living in severe poverty in the UK, and over 1 million 16-24 year-olds not in education, employment or training in England alone – we felt that we couldn't do it alone. By joining our strengths, we can move the needle in a much more significant way.”

Barone Soares suggested the merger would not involve headcount reduction, “It's very early days, but at this point there are no plans for that. This is first and foremost about growth. It's about combining our strengths to get to a position where we can have a much greater impact, and give disruptive charities much more resource than we could have done individually.”

Since PEF's foundation in 2006, it has persuaded industry professionals to donate some £38 million and more than 43,000 hours of pro bono support in the UK, according to outgoing chief executive Ghosh – benefiting some 114,000 young people, she said. “Since I came to PEF it has achieved everything I wanted it to achieve and more. This merger offers the opportunity to scale up our impact massively and I look forward to watching its progress in Johannes and Daniela's very capable hands.”

Ghosh told PEI that she hasn't decided what she'll do next. “I'm not in a hurry. It's got to be the right thing, perhaps even abroad. I just turned 56 and this will be my final fling, so I need something even more amazing than PEF and world changing.”

Barone Soares said she expected the merger to be finalised in March or April. The trustees of the two organisations have voted unanimously to approve the heads of terms, but some legal formalities around the structuring of the combined group still need to be finalised.