Survey exposes shocking conflicts of interest and unhealthy relationships between the corporate finance and private equity communities

Unhealthy relationships between multi-disciplinary corporate finance firms and the private equity community have been revealed by research undertaken by Bluebox Corporate Finance. The survey shows 58 per cent of corporate lawyers believe UK entrepreneurs are not always treated fairly where their corporate finance adviser enjoys a previous relationship with the private equity sponsor in a transaction.

The study exposes conflicts of interest that exist between corporate finance advisers and certain private equity sponsors in the UK mid-market; an issue that is preventing UK entrepreneurs from getting fair, impartial advice.

95 per cent of lawyers surveyed agree it would be in the best interests of UK entrepreneurs to know about existing relationships between their chosen corporate finance advisers and relevant members of the private equity community. 94.5 per cent say it is not in a client’s best interests for a corporate finance adviser to work on both sides of a transaction.

A requirement for obligatory disclosure of previous significant relationships between corporate finance advisers and the private equity would be supported by 96 per cent of lawyers, the survey confirmed.

In a move to stimulate more transparency in the UK mid-market, Bluebox is leading a call for a Register of Interests to be introduced for corporate finance firms to allow better decision making from UK entrepreneurs when selecting their adviser.

Paul Herman, CEO and founder of Bluebox said: “Our research confirms that the current system of ‘ethical walls / firewalls’ is not fit for purpose and is open to abuse. We believe UK business owners deserve better. Bluebox is demanding an immediate end to these unfair practices through a transparent system where corporate advisors must disclose existing and previous relationships with equity firms. The relationships between multi-disciplinary accountants and swathes of the private equity community are far too close, and this has a direct and adverse impact in the impartiality of the advice that many UK entrepreneurs are receiving.

“We believe honesty and trust should be the core values upon which business sale advice is given, but this simply cannot be the case where financial consultants have a vested interest in the other side of a deal.”