Private equity debate hijacked by politicos

Leading corporate lawyers have spoken out against the politicisation of the debate over regulation of Europe’s private equity and hedge fund industries, which is expected to form a critical part of the agenda in the forthcoming European elections.


Private equity debate hijacked by politicosLeading ;corporate lawyers have spoken out against the politicisation of the debate over regulation of Europe’s private equity and hedge fund industries, which is expected to form a critical part of the agenda in the forthcoming European elections.

The European Commission convened a two-day meeting on 26 and 27 ­February to discuss the issue. Speakers included Party of European Socialists leader Paul Rasmussen, who has led the call to crack down on private equity.

The European Venture Capital Association (EVCA), in conjunction with the British Venture Capital Association ;(BVCA), ­submitted ;a ;200-page report on the issue. But the private equity delegates came away disgruntled.

“There were no Members of European Parliament present, and the couple of people there from the ­Commission were totally junior,” said one outraged participant.

According to several ­present, most non-industry delegates, ;including ­Rasmussen, simply came to speak and did not stay to ­listen to the industry view.

“It ;indicates ;[that ­Rasmussen] isn’t particularly ;interested ;in ;the ­substance of the argument,” ;said ;­another ;industry ­insider.

Alchemy Partners general counsel Sue Woodman said: “Whatever we say they’ll regulate because it’s politically prudent to do so, not because there’s an actual need to do so, as they would have seen if they’d bothered to read the submission.”

SJ Berwin partner Simon Witney, who helped draft the submission, told The Lawyer: “What depresses me most is how political it’s all become. You had the impression that people weren’t listening to the arguments. The issue is being determined by politics rather than reasoned debate.”