Permira brings in BPPA amid 'greed' accusations

Permira, the private equity powerhouse behind a number of UK company household names, has appointed Bell Pottinger Public Affairs amid heightened scrutiny of venture capital firms.

As Europe's biggest private equity company, Permira owns vehicle breakdown service the AA, has just acquired the Iglo Bird's Eye Frozen Foods business from Unilever, and has this month been eyeing up soft drinks business Britvic. But recent attempts to take over HMV, WH Smith and Britvic have fallen through.

Concerns have been expresased that private equity firms do not always have the long-term interests of their businesses at heart.

General union GMB has campaigned against job losses at the AA, and an Early Day Motion in parliament accused Permira of ‘greed' and ‘blatant asset stripping' in its ownership of the AA.

Permira is eager to stem the tide of criticism and promote the benefits it claims to bring to firms in which it invests.

It is recruiting for its first comms director.

A Permira spokesman confirmed BPPA's appointment as its first public affairs adviser but declined to provide details of the brief. Age­ncy managing director Peter Bingle leads the account.

BPPA is understood to have seen off at least two rival consultancies in a competitive pitch to secure the contract.

One-fifth of private sector employees work for companies that are backed by private equity firms, according to the British Venture Capital Association.

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