Buyout gurus make venture charity push

Michael Bow
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CVC’s Marc Boughton, BC Partners’ Nikos Stathopoulos and Blackstone’s Lionel Assant
CVC Capital’s managing partner talks to Michael Bow about his plans for so-called venture philanthropy

MENTION the words “business philanthropy” to most cynical people and their eyes will glaze over.

The onslaught of charity gala dinners and community initiatives, however well intentioned, can arguably make philanthropic ventures indistinguishable from one another. CVC Capital’s managing partner Marc Boughton offers an antidote to all that.

In just under two months Boughton and trade group BVCA will help stage the second annual Impetus-Private Equity Foundation triathlon, the culmination of a push by Boughton to develop a landmark fixture in the City’s charitable calendar.

“It’s an industry event that connects private equity firms, their portfolio companies, charities they support and their employees along with banks, lawyers, accountants, consultants and other service providers to the private equity industry,” Boughton said

“And it’s critical we encourage first-timers into the sport. This is an entry level event. It’s not just for the triathletes in the office, it’s for people who want to come and have a go.”

Boughton is a 25-year veteran of an industry which has had its fair share of negative publicity over the years. Yet for all its faults, private equity has a real advantage in controlling companies central to many communities in the UK. The industry employs around 800,00 people across the UK, putting it on par with the NHS as a major UK employer.

CVC, along with other private equity outfits, pushes its philanthropic ventures through its portfolio companies, as well as offering money and expertise to charities through the CVC Foundation, its charity arm. “The private equity community is one of the biggest employers in the UK. As responsible owners, we can influence the employability of disadvantaged young people with real and scaleable impact,” Boughton adds.

It has funded job recruitment programmes at Merlin Entertainments, the owner of Alton Towers and Legoland, and also offers CV advice to help young people from poor backgrounds get into work at Merlin attractions.

Boughton represents CVC on the board of Impetus-PE Foundation, the industry-wide private equity charity chaired by KKR’s Johannes Huth.

This year’s triathlon, which takes place at the Olympic rowing venue in Dorney Lake, will try to top the £145,000 raised last year. The money will be used to help put young Brits from disadvantaged backgrounds on course to get good jobs.

With charities being forced to move away from state-funding due to government cuts, private sector initiatives like the CVC Foundation and the Impetus-PE Foundation are taking on renewed importance helping disadvantaged people across the country – and sharpening corporate philanthropy in the process.

The Impetus-PE Foundation triathlon takes place on 12 September