Private equity hunts help

Private equity firms across Europe are poised to hire PR support in the latest concerted effort to improve the reputation of the industry.

The Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners are among major private equity houses that make up the European Private Equity Roundtable, which is running the search for an agency. The British Capital Association and the European Venture Capital Association are also on board.

The private equity industry was recently hit by the EU's controversial alternative investment fund managers' directive and is keen to boost its image to halt further regulation from Europe. A source involved in the pitch said: 'The industry is waking up to the importance of reputation.'

Ten UK-based agencies were initially invited to pitch for the work, which covers corporate PR and public affairs.

Final pitches were due to take place this week, with just four agencies still in the frame. As PRWeek went to press, Blue Rubicon and Brunswick were said to be front-runners to pick up the six-figure account.

The private equity industry has made a concerted effort to increase transparency since heavy criticism in 2007.

The latest search for agency support comes 18 months after the EVCA, the trade body for Europe's private equity sector, appointed a Brussels-based PR agency on a pan-European media and PR brief (PRWeek, 4 September 2009).

FD Blueprint was charged with helping to focus the EVCA's media relations activity in the run-up to the alternative investment fund managers' directive, which has been attacked by private equity, hedge funds and asset managers for being too tough.

However, agency sources suggested previous PR activity had been unsuccessful in stemming the tide of regulation from Europe and needed to be revisited. One source said: 'It's not worked as the directive will force more disclosure and transparency from private equity houses, including on remuneration for their managers.'

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