Thoma’s ‘old fashioned’ message to PE

Thoma tells us what he thinks the PE industry needs to do – and what it needs to subject itself to; Panelists at the Forum warn about the potential pitfalls of raising capital overseas.

Backstage with Thoma: Yesterday we published a brief video interview with Carl Thoma of Thoma Bravo, which followed on the heels of Toby Mitchenall’s on-stage interview with him at the PEI CFOs & COOs Forum. Among other interesting nuggets, Thoma mentions something many PE professionals have been talking about: how the industry is perceived. Only he adds a slightly different aspect to it. PE pros have been saying that in light of the negative PR around PE emanating from the likes of Senator Elizabeth Warren, stakeholders should be proactive about spreading the word of just what a powerful job- and value-creating industry they’re a part of.

But Thoma’s take (which he says might be “old fashioned”) reminds that it isn’t just about pushing out positive messaging: “We’re going to have to allow ourselves to be a little more critiqued on what value we’re creating beyond just what return on investment we’re creating for our investors,” he said. One of his suggestions: that media spend less time making Forbes-style wealth lists, and more time quantifying job creation.

At six minutes, it’s definitely worth a watch this morning.

The pitfalls of overseas capital raising: More from the forum, here (and yet more to come!). Our colleague Graeme Kerr attended a breakout session on the operating issues and management implications for global PE firms. Panelists warned: you’d better think twice about raising capital overseas. Structures can be expensive to build, fundraising can be very challenging in certain jurisdictions, and investors don’t always flock in the requisite volume to compensate for the trouble. Said one attendee: “I used to tell my guys, ‘It may be nice having this Jersey entity, but it’s ending up killing our net return’.”

To add to the complexity, there’s also potential FX risks and costs, as we wrote about recently (a topic we’ll be covering more of in the future).