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Comment: Permira’s fundraising hurdle may be a boon

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Private equity firm Permira has received some welcome news with the announcement by SVG Capital, the biggest investor in its funds, that following a strategic review SVG intends to cont

Private equity firm Permira has received some welcome news with the announcement by SVG Capital, the biggest investor in its funds, that following a strategic review SVG intends to continue its relationship with the firm.

Insisting that SVG had no desire to scale back its existing investment in Permira, chairman Nicholas Ferguson (pictured) says: ‘Permira have a very good long-term track record, one of the best in the industry. Every private equity group is inevitably going through a difficult time at the moment.’

However, SVG will not make any new commitments to third-party funds and does not expect to be a position to return capital to investors until there is a significant improvement in the market environment. ‘We would not expect to receive any major distributions from our investment portfolio over the next 12 to 24 months,’ Ferguson says.

Without the cornerstone commitments from its biggest investor, in the short term Permira will face a hurdle in terms of fund-raising. But could this be a blessing in disguise for the firm, whose funds were marked down between 44 and 54 per cent at the end of December?

With more economic gloom on the horizon, this might not be the best time for new investments anyway. Permira has already has its share of companies struggling with high debt levels after being bought for massive earnings multiples at the top of the market.

Maybe Permira’s chairman Damon Buffini, who perhaps not coincidentally is stepping down as a non-executive director of London-listed SVG, also thinks now is the time to wait and watch the world go by.

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