Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Notebook 1public private ownership - Creating value: The debate over public vs. private ownership - Corporate
Johannes Huth: There has really been a change in how private equity firms have generated value over the past 30 years. In the 1980s private equity firms generated value simply by being able to buy companies relatively cheaply and later selling them at a better price. In the 1990s a lot of value was generated through what you could broadly call financial engineering. Today the markets are fairly efficiently priced, and financial engineering is no longer a differentiating factor. Everyone can do it, and everyone has the same tools.
So the way that private equity creates value today is by fundamentally changing businesses and driving growth. We can do that by making sure that management is a significant participant in value creation and by maintaining our focus. If you run a large conglomerate, there is always one business that isn't a priority in terms of capital allocation, but we can run every one of our businesses as a priority and dedicate the necessary capital to them. We're probably also better at corporate governance than a public company. When we acquire a business, we spend a lot of time on due diligence so that when we sit on the board, we have a detailed understanding of what the company does. That enables us to be very good sparring partners for the management team in further driving value.
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