Private Equity Reporting Group publishes 2016 annual report
8 December 2016
The Private Equity Reporting Group (“the Group”), the body established to review the private equity industry’s conformity with the Walker Guidelines, has published its ninth annual report on disclosure and transparency in private equity.
Compliance by portfolio companies covered by the Guidelines has reduced slightly again this year to 88% (2015: 95%). Moreover, only 57% of the portfolio companies reviewed have achieved an overall good or excellent level of quality of disclosure, whereas 95% achieved this level in 2015. This decrease in standards was primarily due to a backdrop of higher standards seen in the FTSE 350, the benchmark for judging compliance.
Other highlights include:
- The number of portfolio companies required to comply with the Guidelines has decreased from 62 companies in 2015 to 60 this year.
- The private equity firms managing or advising funds which own the portfolio companies within scope has increased by 1 to 66 this year. This includes firms that conduct their operations in a ‘private equity-like’ manner.
- This is the second year where all portfolio companies were required to comply with the new reporting obligations under the Guidelines, which require the disclosure of the portfolio company’s business model, detail on gender diversity and its response to human rights issues. Nearly half of companies did not initially include human rights and/or gender diversity disclosures in their annual report. Further effort is required to increase awareness of the content of the Guidelines and feedback in this report at a portfolio company level.
- As in previous years, 20% of companies had not published their audited report and accounts on their website at the time of the report. A substantially greater proportion of companies had not been publishing their accounts within six months of year-end. The Group will start to name companies publicly that do not meet this requirement in next year’s report.
Nick Land, the Chairman of the Private Equity Reporting Group, said:
“In the current environment there is an increased emphasis on the transparency and conduct of the largest privately-held businesses in the UK, leading to the recent publication of the Government’s green paper on corporate governance. Given its experience with the Walker Guidelines, the private equity industry is well placed to demonstrate how good practice in narrative reporting can be applied to private companies. Against this backdrop and the improving standards of reporting seen in the FTSE 350, the benchmark for judging companies covered by the Walker Guidelines, it was disappointing to see the overall quality of disclosures by portfolio companies fall this year. The industry must, therefore, increase its efforts to improve the quality of reporting in 2017.”
Gurpreet Manku, Director, Policy, BVCA
Tom Allchorne, Director, Communications, BVCA
Note to Editors
- The Walker Guidelines
In February 2007 the BVCA asked Sir David Walker to undertake an independent review of the adequacy of disclosure and transparency in private equity, with a view to recommending a set of guidelines for conformity by the industry on a voluntary basis. This review resulted in the publication of the Guidelines in November 2007.
- The Private Equity Reporting Group
The Private Equity Reporting Group (PERG) 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 Gerry Murphy, Chairman & Senior Managing Director at The Blackstone Group, and Ralf Gruss, Chief Operating Officer at Apax Partners. More information about the Group can be found here.