Charles Pretzlik: FSA lays into private equity

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A full news list today is led by the FSA saying it is going to get extremely serious about conflicts of interest within private equity firms and about market abuse by private equity players. The regulator today published its feedback document as part of its inquiry into the industry. In it the FSA also says it plans to conduct a semi-annual review of leverage levels, starting in the first quarter of 2008. And it seems moderately sympathetic to concerns some in the market have expressed about whether the increasingly diffuse nature of ownership of risk is making restructurings too complex. We’ll have plenty more detail in the paper tomorrow.

We’ll also return to our two front page stories this morning. Barclays shares are up on the news that Atticus and others are very cool on its ABN Amro bid. You can read Atticus’s letter on FT.com now. We’ll also come back to Anthony Bolton’s claim in our pages today that “the relationship between UK companies and their shareholders will never be quite the same again” after Cadbury Schweppes appeared to cave in so easily to Nelson Peltz (about whom he is quite critical).

Personally, I think he may overstate his point a little. However, even if you accept Cadbury’s line that it was going to split beverages from confectionary anyway and that Peltz merely accelerated that plan, then the company was guilty of chronically poor communication with the market beforehand.

Centrica shares are up 2 per cent after Gazprom said it was getting closer to a deal to boost its UK presence. However, a spokesman for the Russian group has since denied Centrica is its target.

Cricket fans will enjoy, or may not for that matter, the story that Walt Disney’s ESPN has bought the Cricinfo website from Wisden. The MD of ESPN International is full of soothing words, as is the site’s editor, who admits there will be some anxiety but says it will all be alright in the end. For Ben Fenton, who has just joined us from the Daily Telegraph, this will be his maiden delivery. This is a great story on the last day of a test match we are about to win. It so happens also that my father is one of the stats held on Cricinfo.

Sports fans will also be watching the latest takeover story in football – Birmingham City this time. It confirmed this morning it had received a takeover approach but no word on where from.

Finally, I have only just noticed, reading efinancialnews, that Nicola Horlick’s Bramdean Asset Management is directly managing slightly less than £33m for clients more than two years after launching. There may be more to it – we’ll have a look – but this is pathetic. It makes her look like a PR business with a fund management arm attached.

Rumour of the day: Neil Hume has come back from paternity leave today with a story: he is hearing of some aggressive stake-building in Smiths Group (up 3 per cent). Find out more on FT Alphaville.

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