Category Archives: Private equity

Los Angeles Pension Fund Gives Up to $40 Million Approval Authority to Hopelessly Conflicted Consultant, Hamilton Lane

It often seems hard to fathom is how supposedly sophisticated investors like public and private investment funds give private equity firms so much discretion with inadequate oversight and controls. Try as they might, it is impossible for limited partners to find seasoned advisors, such as pension fund consultants and attorneys, who are not beholden to private equity sources of income.

We’ll look at a case study today, that of a top pension fund consultant and one of its clients, the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System, or LACERS. As you will see, the Hamilton Lane reports do not contain sufficient business and financial analysis for a potential investor to make a reasoned decision whether to risk a substantial equity investment. Their role is to provide due diligence theater.

Read more...

Matt Taibbi Takes Up SEC’s Andrew Bowden Regulatory Capture Scandal

Matt Taibbi has written a characteristically informative, incisive piece about the embarrassing spectacle of the SEC’s Director of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, Andrew Bowden, making sycophantic remarks about the private equity industry at a recent conference, a story we broke early last week.

Read more...

Video of Panel Revealing SEC Regulatory Capture Put Back On Line by Stanford Law

Last week, we wrote about a damning example of regulatory capture that occurred at a conference at Stanford Law School on March 5. In the Q&A session, the SEC’s head of examinations, Andrew Bowden, threw a big bouquet at an industry he oversees, private equity, repeatedly calling it “the greatest,” praising its returns, and saying that he’s told his son that he’d really do well to get a job in private equity.

Read more...

Did New York Times’ Dealbook Throw a Source Under the Bus in TPG Suit Against Ex-Employee/Ex-White House Staffer?

If a lawsuit filed yesterday by TPG is to be taken at face value, the private equity kingpin has been the subject of a nasty extortion attempt by a vengeful now former employee, Adam Levine. Levine allegedly not only threatened to use his PR clout to bring down the firm, but purloined confidential materials from TPG’s systems and doctored at least one before sending it to a reporter at New York Times’ Dealbook. And TPG further claims it had good reason to be worried because Levine asserted that it was his grand jury testimony, shortly after he left the Bush White House as a member of its communications team, that brought down Scooter Libby.

But the real bombshell in the filing is the way that the New York Times’ Dealbook looks to have thrown Levine, an alleged source, under the bus.

Read more...

KKR’s Botched Document Cover-Up Reveals Washington Public Pension Fund Cronyism

As we’ve been examining private equity abuses, readers have been incredulous that investors have put up with one-sided, deliberately vague, complex, and/or obfuscatory contracts, unreasonable demands for secrecy, and lack of access to critically important information, such as the financial statements of the portfolio companies that they own. This failure of investors to protect their own interest is particularly troubling given that so many are fiduciaries.

We have another example of this sort of conduct that comes out of an important story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Private equity kingpin KKR made what amounted to an admission of guilt by rebating fees that the SEC had found were improperly charged, meaning stolen from the limited partners. We’ve obtained the document that was the foundation of the story and are embedding it at the end of this post. It’s a remarkable example of how cronyistic the relationships are between hapless, captured investors and the general partners who led them by the nose.

We are about to do some document forensic work, so put on your gumshoes!

Read more...

KKR Rebates Some Ill-Gotten Fees to Investors Due to Dodd Frank Reforms

KKR made what amounted to an admission of guilt to the blistering charges that the SEC laid at the doorstep of the private equity industry last May. Then, Andrew Bowden described in unusually specific detail the widespread, serious abuses it was finding in its initial private equity examinations, including what amounted to embezzlement.

Mark Maremont of the Wall Street Journal, based on a document obtained by FOIA from the Washington State Investment Board, learned that KKR had disgorged some ill-gotten fees.

Read more...

CalPERS Board Discussion of Fees Exposes Naivete, Misguided Aim of Fee Reduction Effort

Today, the Financial Times has a prominent article on how the giant public pension fund and private equity investing heavyweight CalPERS has a new push on to reduce the fees that it pays to private equity firms.

This would all be salutary, except that a board meeting in December exposed that CalPERS’s staff has an unduly narrow conceptualization of the charges that private equity firms are taking out of the companies that they buy with the funds of limited partners like CalPERS. As a result, this effort demonstrates how badly captured the limited partners like CalPERS are. They passively accept the parameters set by the general partners and ask for concessions only within that framework, rather than demanding entirely new arrangements in light of well-publicized abuses and gaping shortcomings in transparency and accountability.

Read more...

Paper Exposing Manipulation of Electricity Prices Stymied by Editor with Private Equity Ties

Yves here. I’ve read the detailed traffic between the author Eric L. Prentis and the publication in question, Energy Economics, and have also run them and his paper by academics who have or are supervising significant research and publication efforts. They gave the Prentis paper high marks and agreed that the actions of Energy Economics […]

Read more...

How the Republican Campaign to Gut Dodd Frank is a Huge Gimmie to Banks and Private Equity Funds

The Republicans have been quick and shameless in using their control of both houses to try to crank up the financial services pork machine into overtime operation. The Democrats at least try to meter out their give-aways over time.

Their plan, as outlined in an important post by Simon Johnson, is to take apart Dodd Frank by dismantling key parts of it under the rubric of “clarifications” or “improvements” and to focus on technical issues that they believe to be over the general public’s head and therefore unlikely to attract interest, much the less ire. However, as Elizabeth Warren demonstrated in the fight last month over the so-called swaps pushout rule, it is possible to reduce many of these issues to their essential element, which is that Wall Street is getting yet another subsidy or back-door bailout.

Today’s example is HR 37, with the Orwellian label “Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act”.

Read more...