MPs put private equity put under spotlight

The cream of the Dutch financial world was in The Hague on Wednesday afternoon to attend a parliamentary hearing on the rise and role of venture capitalists and hedge funds in the Netherlands.

MPs had organised the event following disquiet over the effect of private equity houses on Dutch institutions such as bank ABN Amro, engineering group Stork and newspaper concern PCM.
Private equity firms are not made up of ‘robbers and crooks,’ said Peter Korteweg of Cerberus Capital Management, arguing that the Netherlands should become the ‘private equity centre’ of the world.
Former ABN Amro boss Jan Kalff called for more rules and greater transparency. ‘There have not been any accidents yet,’ said Kalff, who is president of the Stork supervisory board. ‘But the risk is high… the sector is too big to be left free.’
Peter Paul de Vries of the investors’ lobby group VEB pointed out that management no longer just works in the interests of the company but is also influenced by the big money brought in by private equity.
Financial sector watchdog AFM and the central bank DBN said they want more opportunities to act when hedge funds target a Dutch firm. Rules are needed to prevent them getting more freedom to operate in the Netherlands than elsewhere, said the AFM’s Paul Koster.

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