US buyout groups join BVCA

Bain Capital, Blackstone, Carlyle and KKR have signed up to the BVCA, a UK trade body, as the industry continues its charm offensive.

Four of the largest US buyout firms have signed up to the BVCA, the UK’s private equity trade association, as the industry continues to look to improve its image in Europe’s pre-eminent private equity centre.

Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and The Carlyle Group are all now members of the BVCA, according to a spokesman for the trade body. The latter three have all joined in the last year, while Bain became a member fifteen months ago.

The high-profile recruits have come during a period in which the BVCA has been ramping up its lobbying work, particularly in Europe. The importance of London  both as a financial centre and as the most attractive environment for private equity in Europe has made the BVCA an influential voice at European level, as well as in the UK, according to industry sources. This helped persuade the large buyout firms that it was in their interests to join the trade body.

Of the four firms, only KKR is currently listed as a member of EVCA, the Europe-wide trade body, in its most recent directory. A source close to another large buyout firm said the services provided by EVCA had not really offered sufficient value for money, given the membership fees charged to the bigger groups.

However, the four firms are all part of the US-based Private Equity Council, a lobbying body formed in the US last year to represent the views of the large buyout firms. The NVCA, the BVCA’s American equivalent, is more focused on the venture capital end of the market, and the firms felt they would benefit from a separate lobbying body.

Other members of the PEC are yet to join the BVCA. Apollo Management, Hellman and Friedman, Providence Equity Partners, and Silver Lake Partners also have offices in the UK, but so far have decided against joining the body.

US firm Texas Pacific Group, another PEC member, has already joined the BVCA. So too have many of the leading European buyout houses, including Apax Partners, Permira and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners – all three of whom are also members of EVCA.