BC Partners shrugs off the recession with bumper profit

BC PARTNERS, the private equity firm whose investments include estate agent Foxtons and gym chain Fitness First, increased operating profits last year even as the recession hit leveraged buyouts.<br /><br />Turnover fell in what was held to be the worst year for venture capital since 2005, but overall profits grew from &pound;4.2m in 2007 to &pound;5.4m.<br /><br />BC Partners&rsquo; senior executives shared dividends of &pound;6.9m while its five directors took home &pound;1.8m between them. Acquisitions activity dropped to a three-year low in 2008 as the cheap debt used to fund deals dried up. Buyout groups also became reluctant to get out of investments via flotations, as turbulent stockmarkets made the prospect of conducting IPOs unappealing.<br /><br />BC Partners sold off three holdings in the &ldquo;boom&rdquo; year of 2007 but mostly steered clear of corporate activity in 2008, choosing only to put money into a Turkish supermarket chain.<br /><br />The firm&rsquo;s good fortunes matched up to those of competitor Permira, whose senior dealmakers raked in &pound;30m in fees despite having to write down the company&rsquo;s portfolio by more than a third in value. Speaking in April, Permira boss Damon Buffini said his firm had benefited from taking &ldquo;difficult&rdquo; decisions but warned of hard times to come.