Book review: Inside Private Equity

Book review: Inside Private Equity
A mug tale of manipulation and profit-chasing at all costs.

I nearly vomited on the first page of this book as the smug and self-satisfied author described how he was on “the deck of a 16.5-metre Robert Ladd-designed ketch, sailing down the coast of Turkey with my wife. The crew has just served us an Aubergine and lemon salad with a side dish of yoghurt and olives. We are washing this down with a cool Bordeaux”. He may be a successful financial manipulator, but he needs to learn to wipe his chin.

This idyll was in the context of him taking “a well-earned sabbatical” to write this book.

I know Bill Ferris is revered in Oz, but to me he’s just like a foie gras farmer force-feeding debt to corporate geese til they burst, then chopping and selling the liver.

As an example his private equity firm, Champ, has recently sold its stake in debt-burdened Blue Star Group for a figure that was a fraction of the value they paid for it in 2006. This seems typical of Australia. Through clever manipulation of other people’s money, they inflate purchase prices, then through lack of really understanding the nature of a business, destroy its value, picking up their fees at both ends of the transaction. Then have very nice summer hols on yachts.

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