private equity

Matthew Vincent

Yesterday, three events made me realise why music has been a good investment for venture capital trusts (VCTs), but not for private-equity funds.

In the morning, I edited a column by Kevin Goldstein-Jackson, citing the fate of music label EMI. Kevin recalled his prescience in asking, back in 2007, whether EMI would be bought by a private equity firm that would “overpay, borrow too much – and cut the artist roster [and therefore sales] even further”. Terra Firma now appears to have done all three – halving EMI’s value to £2bn.

In the afternoon, I visited Ingenious Media, which manages a VCT investing in music festivals. This requires a fraction of what it costs to buy a music label – it raised £85m for all its trusts – but achieves margins of up to 30 or 40 per cent by charging people to listen to music in muddy fields, and then camp out in them.

In the evening, I attended the Brit Awards, at which thousands of people in more hospitable surroundings enthusiastically toasted popular artists by the names of Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Dizzy Rascal. So hospitable were the organisers, and the sommeliers, that my hosts were dancing on the table by 9.30pm, and last seen heading for the bar – via the indoor dodgem cars, post ironic bingo hall, giant inflatable octopus and crazy golf course – at the after-show party.

It was then that, in the words of Best British female artist Lily Allen, “it all became clear”…

Denise Law

Investors wishing to add a little bit of “spice” into their portfolios are returning to venture capital, an asset class that’s recovering quickly from the recent recession.

Patrick Reeve, managing partner of Albion Ventures, made a strong pitch for venture capital this morning when he said simply that private investors “don’t like risk, don’t like nasty surprises, like income, are hopeful and tend to be in it for the long-term (until they get frightened).”

If that’s the case then why put money into new start-up companies that could fail?



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Lucy Warwick-Ching is the FT’s new Money Online Editor and has been a UK Companies reporter covering tobacco, pubs and leisure companies as well as the deputy editor on House and Home.

Matthew Vincent is the FT’s Personal Finance Editor and was previously the editor of Investors Chronicle, where he also devised the award-winning online video The Market Programme, and produced the BBC-FT standalone magazine ‘How to be Better Off’. He presents the weekly FT Money Show audio podcast, and previously worked on the BBC TV programmes Short Change and Pound for Pound.

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Josephine Cumbo has written about all aspects of personal finance but currently specialises in insurance. She also covered company news for FT.com. Prior to working at the FT she was a news reporter for the ABC.

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Jonathan Eley is editor of Investors Chronicle, and has been with the title for ten years. Before that he worked for newswires and trade journals in London, New York and Hong Kong.

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