Tightened regulation of private equity and increased tax scutiny
Governments are tightening regulation of private equity and increasing tax scrutiny. They’ve the backing of public opinion, which fervently believes the financial sector doesn’t contribute sufficient economic value to society. In Europe, the collision of Anglo-Saxon and continental European socio-economic models has fed criticism. But even in the US 2012 presidential campaign, the Democrats have questioned private equity’s socio-economic value.
Private equity's valuable contribution to economies
In this politically charged atmosphere, and as regulations and tax practices evolve, it’s easy to overlook private equity’s valuable contribution to economies at a time when capital is hard to come by. For instance, in Europe, private equity firms are funnelling billions of Euros every year into businesses while bank funding has become harder to access. According to the European Venture Capital Association:
- Private equity and venture capital firms raised new commitments from investors of €40bn in 2011 for investing in European companies
- In total, €45.5bn was invested in European companies during the year
- 85% of the European companies backed were small-to-medium sized enterprises, and nearly half of them employed less than 20 people.
What’s more, the industry is becoming a pioneer of ‘responsible’ capitalism, establishing practices for others to follow. In a recent PwC survey, 94% of private equity respondents stated that they believed environmental, social and governance (ESG) improvements created value in their portfolio companies.1 Private equity firms are using ESG factors as a way to differentiate themselves and gain access to capital.
 Responsible investment: creating value from environmental, social and governance issues www.pwc/sustainability.com March 2012.
Seeking a balance between profitable investing & regulatory compliance
The International Finance Centres (IFCs) that host private equity funds are working hard to adapt – so that they comply with changing regulatory requirements and yet still offer an environment in which private equity forms offer a fair return to investors and benefits local economies.