Permira, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Blackstone, Carlyle Group and 3i have all been called to appear before the committee next week, as part of an ongoing inquiry into private equity funds.
The MPs will also hear from trade unions Unite and GMB – both of whom have been fiercely critical of private equity companies.
One senior PA professional with significant select committee experience said: ‘This is a controversial issue that has had a lot of negative publicity, so it’s likely to be quite a testing environment for private equity firms. It is important that they fundamentally understand exactly why they have been called and what the committee’s agenda will be.’
Ahead of the hearing, Permira, headed in the UK by managing partner Damon Buffini, is taking advice from its retained agency Bell Pottinger’s Public Affairs. KKR is relying on Finsbury, which it retains for both financial PR and public affairs.
Blackstone is using Iain Anderson’s financial lobbying shop Cicero Consulting – also on a retainer. The Carlyle Group is understood to be using a PA consultancy, but it would not disclose the identity. The private equity firm’s European director of comms Emma Thorpe said: ‘We are taking advice ahead of the inquiry, but we would rather not say who from.’
3i uses Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels but does not have a retained agency for its UK work, so the firm’s London-based head of investor relations Douwe Cosijn is currently overseeing preparations.
Earlier this week, the select committee took evidence from the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and the TUC, as the inquiry got underway.
Meanwhile, the Financial Services Authority said this week that it would be investigating a number of concerns it has regarding the growth of private equity-led takeovers. Without naming any specific deals, the FSA said that it would probe issues such as excessive debt and market abuse.