Look out, it's those private equity creeps - and they mean business


Look out, it's those private equity creeps - and they mean business

Neil Matthews.bmpNeil Matthews, a partner at Eversheds, doesn't seem to share our revulsion of private equity practitioners. Or maybe he's too professional. Problem is they're taking over.

What's the collective noun for private equity merchants? A smarm? A nest? A whoop?

Whatever it is, last year the experts predicted a ratpack of private equity backs would be issuing initial public offerings for technology companies.

It never happened. Why?

"Institutional investors refused to pay the exit values the private equity houses wanted," says Neil Matthews, partner at international law firm Eversheds.

A year on and the same predictions are being made. Although valuations will have to be realistic for investors to bite, Matthews says investors do seem to have regained their appetite for technology stocks.

"Goldman Sachs' investment in Facebook may have kicked things off and really stimulated the sector," he says.

Still, big money is moving out of bonds and into equities. There's a shift from defensive stocks into slightly riskier assets. Witness the success of the Neilson and Demand Media offerings, says our legal expert.

"2011 could prove to be an active one for technology and internet IPOs," he says.

We'll hold you to that, Mr Matthews!

This was first published in January 2011

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