The best thing about 3i was its founding ambition – to provide start-up capital for soldiers returning from World War II so they could fund new businesses. The worst thing about 3i was its decision to stop funding start-up businesses.
OK, it’s a hard old world in the financial sector where people think they must make as much money as they possibly can. 3i’s decision to become a private equity company may make it more profitable.
But it’s sad to see an institution which helped promote the common good, morph into just another money-grubbing City wheeler-dealer outfit. We need another of them like a hole in the head.
As we all know by now, private equity companies don’t build companies from the ground up.
Instead of building companies they buy companies, then asset-strip them, load them up with debt, cut back on the R&D, sack people, close factories and break them up.
Just look at what Blackstone did to Freescale, and KKR did to NXP – i.e. all of the above.
The truly appalling thing about private equity is that they are granted tax concessions. That’s like saying ‘Thank you’ to a guy who’s just kicked you in the balls.
What we should be doing is giving generous tax concessions to VC companies, and taxing the hell out of PE companies.
Hopefully the EU Directive on the Private Equity Industry which trims the PE industry’s wings will remain un-watered down by our First Secretary of State, Lord Peter Mandelson, fresh from his Corfu holiday at the home of Hedgie Nat Rothschild.
Hopefully Nat and his Dad, Lord Jacob Rothschild, told Mandy that PE companies are a load of wank – though I don’t think they did.
But that, apparently, is what 3i aspires to become.
TOMORROW MORNING: TEN BEST TECHNO-PONZI SCHEMES