Following the high profile resignation of its chief executive, Peter Linthwaite, after a Treasury Select Committee mauling, the private equity sector went into meltdown, issuing contradictory messages and abandoning ship to the CBI.
Political and media criticism centred on the sector’s perceived unfair tax breaks, its treatment of employees/pensioners and individuals’ reluctance to confirm their UK tax status. Headlines such as ‘Departure leaves BCVA in more disarray’ (The Daily Telegraph, 15 June) revealed the PR chaos experienced by the City’s wealthiest financiers.
In anticipation of a further ‘bloodbath’ (FT, 18 June) in front of the Treasury Select Committee, the weekend brought a rearguard PR action, with some private equity players ready to concede tax breaks in a ‘Damascene conversion’ (The Observer, 17 June). Whether this will be enough to save the private equity sector from Gordon Brown is anyone’s guess. What is clear is that the BVCA has a massive PR rehabilitation programme ahead of it. Any takers?