Confusion about what companies do
Private equity companies need an image makeover to shatter the public's perception that they are little more than asset strippers and job destroyers, according to a poll of senior business chiefs.

The survey, triggered by the proposed take over of Alliance Boots by KKR, highlighted the need for private equity houses to promote the roles they play in economic development and wealth creation.

The poll conducted by Directorbank, which recruits executives for the private equity sector, found that 50 per cent of the 100 decision makers polled thought that the negative publicity the private equity business had experienced after the Boots bid was justified, largely based on the industry's lack of effective communication to counter outdated perceptions.

Speedy Hire and Directorbank chairman David Wallis said: 'Both old and new [private equity companies] have made exactly the same mistake. They have failed to communicate what they are about. The old were only ever known as asset strippers and job destroyers, the new much the same. When private equity was in its infancy and the deals were small, no one noticed. A bell should have rung somewhere when household names like Sainsbury's and Boots came into the equation. Someone needs to stand up and explain what they are doing.'