- New approach to making UK private equity industry more transparent and accessible
- 2022 financial disclosures show that private equity investments average 5.9 years
- Performance and leverage levels impacted by COVID-19 pandemic
The UK Private Equity Annual Public Reports bring together three separate annual reports which seek to provide enhanced transparency and disclosures by some of the largest UK portfolio companies and their private equity owners.
Specifically, they fall within the scope of the Walker Guidelines, first established in 2007, which provides the framework for the private equity industry to disclose information relating to UK-based portfolio companies and encourage a greater level of disclosure across the industry. The publication of the reports aims to present independently prepared information clearly and simply, to inform the broader business and public debate on the impact of private equity ownership on large businesses.
The ‘Annual Report of the Private Equity Reporting Group’, the ‘Good Practice Reporting Guide for portfolio companies’, and the ‘Annual Report on the performance of portfolio companies’ are the 15th in a series of yearly reports compiled by and for the Private Equity Reporting Group (PERG), the independent body setup to assess the industry on behalf of the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA). Collectively, the three reports demonstrate the private equity industry’s commitment to good practice financial reporting.
Making the industry’s annual reports more accessible
As well as publishing each of the reports separately, this year the key findings have been brought together in one simple overview, as the Private Equity Annual Public Reports. For the first time, all reports and key metrics will be available via a new microsite to make the information more readily available.
In addition, the annual reporting process has been expanded to include sector breakdowns on certain data points, including changes in growth, productivity and financial leverage that portfolio companies experience under private equity ownership. In terms of debt, for example, the reports set out clearly and simply the average levels of financial leverage in portfolio companies at acquisition and then at exit or the time of reporting.
Compliance and disclosures
- All the annual reports reviewed for this report are compliant with the Sir David Walker guidelines for disclosure and transparency in private equity, with 60% doing so to at least a good standard and the remaining 40% doing so to a basic standard.
- The quality of disclosure of non-financial KPIs remains unchanged compared to last year, although notably the quality and depth of the disclosures in relation to environmental matters has improved.
- The majority of disclosures in respect of social, community and human rights issues are basic and should be a focus of improvement next year.
- The vast majority of companies upheld their transparency requirements and published annual reports and mid-year updates in a timely manner.
2022 financial performance
Highlights from this year’s portfolio company performance report include:
- 2021 trading performance in the current portfolio companies varies at both a sector and company level. On average, however, portfolio companies have increased reported revenue at 7.8% CAGR since acquisition (2020: 4.9%).
- The average timeframe of UK Private Equity (PE) investment in portfolio companies is 5.9 years, from initial acquisition to exit.
- Portfolio companies have shown an increase in leverage under PE ownership, which has been driven by additional investments and recapitalisation following the impact of COVID-19 in 2021.
- Reported employment under PE ownership increased to 1.5% per annum (2020: 0.9%) following acquisition.
- The consumer and infrastructure sectors outperformed other sectors in terms of year-on-year organic growth.
- The average employment cost per head in the portfolio companies has increased by 2.1% per annum under PE ownership (2020: 1.8%). Average annual employee compensation growth under PE ownership is consistent with the UK private sector benchmark at 2.1%, representing an increase compared with the previous year.