Private Equity Reporting Group publishes 2015 annual report
11 December 2015
The Private Equity Reporting Group (PERG) – formerly the Walker Guidelines Monitoring Group – has published its annual report into disclosure and transparency practices for the largest private equity-backed portfolio companies in the UK.
This is the first year in which many portfolio companies complied with new reporting obligations following changes to the Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity in 2014, the first substantial changes since the Guidelines were introduced in November 2007. New requirements added to the Guidelines include disclosure on the portfolio company’s business model, detail on gender diversity and its response to human rights issue. Compliance with these is therefore being reviewed for the first time in this report.
- Overall, 95% of the sample reviewed in 2015 achieved a good or excellent/’best in class’ level of compliance, whereas the entire sample achieved this level in 2014. This fall is perhaps unsurprising due to a combination of: a) the Guidelines including new requirements in the current year which can take time to implement; and b) improvements in the quality of reporting by listed companies in the FTSE 350, which is the benchmark for judging compliance.
- The number of portfolio companies required to comply with the Guidelines decreased by 10 to 66, which was a result of 17 exits and seven new deals.
- The number of private equity firms managing or advising funds which owned the portfolio companies within scope increased by six to 65.
- Only 19 of the portfolio companies reviewed made the audited report and accounts or an alternative report available on the company’s website. The Group continues to reinforce the message that accounts should be readily accessible on the company’s website. In addition only eight portfolio companies included a statement of compliance with the Guidelines in their annual report. This was also a new requirement for the Guidelines this year.
- Portfolio companies improved the level of disclosure covering: key performance indicators (both financial and non-financial); trends and factors affecting the future of the company; environmental matters; and social and community issues.
- However, the quality of disclosure for the following criteria was weaker this year against a backdrop of increasing standards seen in the FTSE 350 and amendments to the Guidelines: identity of the private equity firm; details of board composition; business model; and gender diversity.
Nick Land, the Chairman of the Private Equity Reporting Group, said:
“Whilst overall compliance levels were high, there continues to be variability in the quality of disclosures on individual requirements which private equity firms and their portfolio companies need to address. This is in light of improvements in the benchmark for measuring compliance, the FTSE 350, following changes to requirements in the UK’s Corporate Governance Code. I expect this trend to continue and the private equity industry must keep up. This is more so for requirements specific to the industry such as which firm backs the portfolio company and detail of their directors on the board of the portfolio company. Furthermore, given the increased profile of the following areas in the UK, disclosures on gender diversity and human rights issues should be improved.”
Gurpreet Manku, email@example.com, 020 7492 0454
Notes for Editors
- The Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity
The Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity were introduced in November 2007 following a request from the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) to Sir David Walker to undertake an independent review of the adequacy of disclosure and transparency in private equity. In 2014 the Guidelines underwent the first substantial changes since launch. Under the Companies Act 2006, companies preparing financial statements are now required to deliver a strategic report. This led to several new requirements being added to the Guidelines including disclosure on the portfolio company’s business model, detail on gender diversity and its response to human rights issues. The revised Guidelines applied to companies with years ending on or after 30 September 2014 and compliance with these is therefore being reviewed for the first time in this report.
- The Private Equity Reporting Group
The Private Equity Reporting Group (PERG) – formerly the Walker Guidelines Monitoring Group – is an independent body which was established in March 2008 to monitor conformity with the Guidelines and make periodic recommendations to the BVCA for changes to the Guidelines if required. The Group is chaired by Nick Land, a non-executive director on a number of boards including the Financial Reporting Council and Vodafone Group. He is supported by two other independent members: Baroness Drake, former president of the TUC, and Glyn Parry, Director of Group Financial Control at BT Group plc. Representing the private equity industry are Ralf Gruss, Chief Operating Officer at Apax Partners, and Gerry Murphy, Senior Managing Director at The Blackstone Group. More information about the group can be found here.