Sunday 23 October 2016

The Punt: Private equity firms' Waterloo

Published 15/06/2015 | 02:30

George Osborne's plan to enshrine permanent budget surpluses in law was attacked in a letter signed by 77 academics
George Osborne's plan to enshrine permanent budget surpluses in law was attacked in a letter signed by 77 academics

My, my. The men chosen to represent the Wellington and Bonaparte families at the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo already know each other, and are rivals in London's lucrative private equity world.

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Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte (28) and Arthur Wellesley (37), Marquess of Douro, work for Advent International and Charterhouse Capital Partners respectively, two of London's leading, and competing, private equity houses, the 'Financial Times' reported over the weekend.

Things have calmed down a bit since their ancestors fought for control of continental Europe, mind.

"The two compete, but not on the battlefield.

"They fight not with musket and cannon, but with funds worth billions of euros," the 'Financial Times' explains, somewhat redundantly.

They will both be attending ceremonies to mark 200 years since the famous battle, fought just outside the Belgian capital Brussels, on Thursday.

It's probably no accident that scions of two such long established families find themselves in the thick of London's financial whirl.

Still, it's a neat coincidence that two centuries after Boney and the Iron Duke met their destinies at Waterloo, the two men work in firms that compete head-on.

Mind you, the history book on the shelf, is always repeating itself…

Osborne blasted by 77 academics

George Osborne has fallen foul of a group of economists after his Mansion House Speech last week. Apparently the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer ignored basic economics when he said the British government should enshrine permanent budget surpluses in law.

In a letter to 'The Guardian' newspaper, 77 academics, including French economist Thomas Piketty, accused the chancellor of increasing the risk of a financial crash by turning a blind eye to the complexities of a 21st-century economy.

The academics said Osborne was shifting the burden of debt from the government to ordinary households because "surpluses and debts must arithmetically balance out in monetary terms".

It's a blow to Osborne who had delivered the annual blacktie gala speech with his trademark gusto.

Is it likely to have an impact?

Probably not.

The election's over.

The Punt doubts that he's worried.

China sizes up Europe for fund

The diplomatic charm offensive Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have been on with the Chinese political leadership may be about to pay off in spades - or shovel-ready projects, if you prefer.

As an avowed capitalist and democrat, the Punt takes a somewhat sceptical view on our growing ties to communist China, but it seems to be very much a minority view these days. The Chinese, after all, are the lads with the money.

Certainly, from food to technology and education, the current Government has developed significant ties with China, so Ireland should be well-placed to benefit for the latest tick up in foreign investment by Beijing.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, will pledge a multi-billion euro investment in Europe's new infrastructure fund at a summit on June 29 in Brussels, according to Reuters - which describes the move as "chequebook diplomacy to win greater influence".

The move is part of China's efforts to reshape a global economic framework that is largely a legacy of the United States' economic and political leadership of the developed world following the end of World War II.

Its working, The new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was set up with support in Asia and Europe.

Irish Independent

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