Private Equity Council seeks to educate public, media

WASHINGTON: The Private Equity Council has introduced its new Web site and a white paper, the first initiatives of the organization, which launched in February.

WASHINGTON: The Private Equity Council has introduced its new Web site and a white paper, the first initiatives of the organization, which launched in February.

The white paper, "Public Value: A Primer on Public Equity," is an introduction to how private equity works and the economic benefits of the industry. It's meant to reach a wide audience of curious readers as well as the media, who may not know much about the industry despite the coverage it has received.

"What you're seeing is the fruits of labors started a couple of months ago," said Robert Stewart, VP of public Affairs for the Council. "There's an increasing cognizance of private equity, more funds are being allocated, [and] transactions are getting larger. Leaders of the industry felt it was time to take a more active role in explaining itself and offering more transparency in how it works and who benefits."

Among the Council's members are The Blackstone Group and Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts.

According to Stewart, some of the principal beneficiaries of private equity investments are pension funds, endowments, and foundations. The July issue of the Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst reports that US firms raised $137 billion dollars in the first half of 2007, putting the year on track to break the 2006 record total for the year, $261 billion.

Nevertheless, one of the stories dominating the media these days is the Congressional discussion over whether to raise taxes on private equity firms and hedge funds.

"I think private equity is not well understood and I think it's our mission to try and correct that," said Stewart. "For instance, private equity is taxed the same way and at the same rate as is any partnership that takes a risk, buys an asset, improves that asset, and makes a profit. I think people don't understand that."

Last week, the Council retained The Glover Park Group as their AOR after a three-week search. The firm will provide public affairs and communications services. The Council has other white papers and outreach efforts in the works.

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