Against the backdrop of demands from certain quarters to make the private equity industry more open and transparent, on 12 January 2009 the Guidelines Monitoring Group (GMG) published its first report on disclosure and transparency in the private equity industry. This follows the November 2007 publication of the Walker Guidelines on disclosure and transparency in private equity (Guidelines) and reviewed compliance with the Guidelines by the 32 private equity firms and 54 of their portfolio companies that have signed up.
Despite some initial reports claiming that half of private equity firms are ignoring the Guidelines, the GMG concluded that in general the private equity industry has shown a good level of support for them and that a "substantial majority" of the firms and portfolio companies reviewed had made good or acceptable disclosures with only a limited number of exceptions. The GMG further reported that it had communicated with all of the firms that had exceptions to recommend amendments to achieve full conformity and that firms were universally positive in their responses, having made the suggested amendments or committed to do so in the next accounts.
The Guidelines are currently under review and GMG is expected to recommend certain changes in the next few months. Many in the industry are concerned that such proposals may ultimately be extended to smaller portfolio companies (the existing guidelines only cover very large companies) and await with interest how this area of self-regulation is to develop both on a UK and pan-European basis.