While most of us private equity types can not jet over to Switzerland for the world’s top economic conference at Davos, we can now get a view into many of the panels with their “celebrity business people” thanks to You Tube postings. Here is one of my favourites featuring David Rubenstein of Carlyle, a top private equity firm in the USA. He explains why his company investments into private companies have done so well. Despite the charm offensive, the first questioner, a Spanish journalist still wants to know how private equity will affect unions. Rubenstein manages to show that private equity has a heart and a sense of humour.
It does raise the issue that private equity needs to do a better job with public relations and, as Rubenstein says, "talking about what private equity does and how it works." My book Money Magnet certainly recognizes that family businesses do not know enough about it and the broader options it offers. Rubenstein does go on to emphasis that the name private equity is a bad one as when they bought Hertz from Ford there was far more disclosure required as it was no longer buried in a large company's financial statements. The same laws and legislation applies to privately owned business as to the public ones. Just because a company partners with private equity does not mean it is spirited away to a deep, dark cave.