Is coffee on the house?

The comment sections of news and social media sites can be slightly terrifying places – testament to the depressing effect that online anonymity can have on humanity. But there are also some amusing stories to be found ‘below the line’ – even for those of us trying to learn more about the great private equity fee debate.

Recently the Financial Times wrote a scathing piece entitled ‘Private equity: A fee too far’, which slammed some marquee private equity names over controversial expenses like accelerated monitoring fees. One online reader, operating under the moniker Andrew V, was inspired to leave a comment under the article sharing his own “fee too far” story.

“I worked for a company owned by private equity. Once we met [the GP] at their offices and had a coffee. Two weeks later an invoice arrived for room hire and the coffees. The next time we went to see them we bought our coffees at Costa and took them in.”

Now, this may seem too colorful to be true (seriously, who owns up to buying coffee from Costa?).

But it did get pfm thinking about what other types of petty charges unscrupulous GPs might try to lumber their portfolio companies with. It’s not impossible to imagine some dastardly private equity exec sending an invoice to a newly-acquired manufacturing business for a new set of brogues after wearing out the leather on the old ones during a factory tour – or for the morning-after painkillers required following an extensive due diligence session on the fund’s new brewery.