The business on: Sir Adrian Montague, Chairman, 3i
Tuesday 05 July 2011
Aren't they the acceptable face of private equity?
3i is better known than most private equity firms, not least because it is stock market-listed. But it hasn't been immune from the excesses of the sector – its leverage proved too high during the credit crunch.
Shouldn't Sir Adrian have known better?
He wasn't at 3i then, having only become chairman in May 2010. Nor can the chief executive Michael Queen be blamed – he joined in 2009.
How are they doing?
The good news is that the balance sheet has been repaired. Less happily, investment performance is still pretty lacklustre.
So is Sir Adrian under pressure?
He will be unless he heads off mounting dissatisfaction from investors, several of which are consideringvoting down Mr Queen's pay packet unless issues such as their demands for shares buybacks are addressed.
So what's the plan?
Well, if anyone knows how to charm the shareholders, Sir Adrian does – he is considered one of the City's safest pairs of hands. Expect 3i to accommodate investors' concerns, or at least to give a very believable impression of doing so.
What's his track record?
He's worked in the City at Dresdner Kleinwort and the law firm Linklaters. He really came to public prominence during a four-year stint advising Gordon Brown following Labour's election in 1997. He went on to chair Crossrail and also helped to turn around British Energy.
Any black marks at all?
Investors in the insurance company Friends Provident might have acomplaint or two. As chairman there in 2008, he turned down a takeover offer of 150p a share (from private equity concern JC Flowers), only to see Clive Cowdery's Resolution snap it up 12 months later for just 79p.
Did that sully his reputation?
In a word, no. He has been in demand in the City ever since, and sits on a string of boards. "Silky" and "smooth" are common descriptions of him.
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