Making sense of the past seven days
The private equity boys did themselves no favours in the way they handled their attempted acquisition of Sainsbury's, which collapsed in acrimony on Wednesday.

Private equity is under fire at the moment, often wrongly. But the behaviour of the consortium stalking Sainsbury's served only to reinforce the distorted image of private equity's enemies.

Firstly, there was no transparency - a bad move, given critics' focus on such funds' obsessive secrecy. Over the space of just a few days there was apparently an offer. Then another. Then, one by one, the consortium's participants dropped out.

None of this was told to investors directly. It all came out in the media. Sainsbury's investors found that it was only through the newspapers and web sites such as Retail Week Online that they could keep up to date with the twists and turns of the tale.

After the bid collapsed, there was a similar deluge of information - again through the press: the sticking point had been Sainsbury's family members; all sorts of positive ideas, such as an issue of stub equity and the creation of more jobs had apparently been proposed. Why was all this not made public during the negotiation process?

Worst of all was the contempt that the funds displayed when they thought they could proceed without an agreement with Sainsbury's pension fund trustees. The security of the scheme was always a potential deal breaker.

Arrogance, secrecy, lack of concern for Sainsbury's stakeholders such as staff - that was the impression created by the funds. It's a pity. The rights and wrongs of the Sainsbury's saga aside, private equity has had an energising influence on the retail sector. But the consortium's behaviour has only added to the arsenal of its opponents.

New Economics Foundation (NEF), the group that coined the phrase 'clone town Britain', continued its assault on supermarkets with a call for the creation of a market regulator.

Accusing the Competition Commission of failing to protect consumer interests, NEF believes a utilities-style regulator - dubbed Ofshop - would be the answer.

There's no need for the establishment of such an agency, because supermarkets are policed by the most effective regulator of all - the customer.

Failure to provide choice and value or, increasingly, to operate in an ethically and environmentally responsible way, will the mean the grocers are penalised by consumers.

There's no more effective way of getting the message across than putting cash through the till or taking custom elsewhere. With such a powerful regulator in place already, Ofshop is a redundant idea.