Terrorist group compels PE firm to change name

ISIS Equity Partners plans to unveil its new brand in the coming weeks.

ISIS Equity Partners, the UK mid-market private equity firm, said that it would be changing its name in light of the increasing prominence of the terrorist organization Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which is currently engaged in a violent campaign in Syria and Northern Iraq.

“Given ongoing events in Syria and Iraq, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that we have decided to change our name,” ISIS managing partner Wol Kolade said in an emailed update. “We are no longer prepared to share it with a terrorist organization.”

In his statement, Kolade said that the firm would “hopefully be in a position to unveil our new brand in the coming weeks”, but in the interim it would be “very much business as usual”.

“Even though the name above the door will change, we remain focused and committed to invest in and support [sic] high-growth UK companies run by entrepreneurial management teams,” Kolade said.

Other firms, such as Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity) conducted extensive market research, solicited pitches from staff and hired a branding consultant to come up with over 50 suitable names to choose from.

From pfm’s previous conversations with a range of industry sources about choosing a new name, there are two very good reasons why it’s important to make the right choice.

For one, the wrong name can “make investors wonder”, as one placement agent put it. This is one reason why a substantial percentage of GPs are named either after their founders (Warburg Pincus, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Blackstone (indirectly)) or their geography (Lone Star Funds, Golden Gate Capital).

For firms with any sort of international ambitions, that’s a perfectly rational outcome. A simple name, for instance, has less chance of being misinterpreted across different cultures and languages, say sources.