Peter Wiggs, the founding partner of Archer Capital, was sitting comfortably on stage at a conference. He crossed his legs, leaned back in his chair, took the microphone and proclaimed that investing in public companies is sub optimal.
“Investing in public companies will produce sub-optimal outcomes as public companies serve 28-year old analysts and journalists,” he says.
Wiggs says the future of private equity is not listing its shares on stock exchanges as the likes of Apollo, Blackstone and Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts have done.
Nor does Wiggs believe that private equity should yield to pressure to become more publicly transparent.
“It’s not what we want to do, guys,” he says, addressing an audience of fellow general partners who had been brought together by the Asian Venture Capital Journal.
Archer Capital will not meet MySuper fee guidelines, Wiggs says. That means the firm’s limited partners will have to increasingly come from outside Australia.
“If you can’t prove returns, you’ve got a finite future,” he says.
Wiggs says he has an aversion to journalists and articles written about Archer Capital.
“I don’t need it, don’t want it, don’t like it,” he says. “The media doesn’t know us.”
Others disagree with Wiggs.
Some private equity professionals say if a buyout fund has pension funds as limited partners they have a responsibility to be responsive to media enquiries because the general partners have accepted public money.
Blackstone chairman and co-founder Steve Schwarzman has used the press judiciously. He has built a network of relationships with reporters. This has helped him and New York-based Blackstone garner positive press coverage from journalists, grateful to rub shoulders with a prominent Wall Street figure.