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Chief executives “strongly optimistic” about private equity in 2009

The majority (88 per cent) of chief executives are optimistic about the future of private equity, according to a survey by Notch Partners.

The majority (88 per cent) of chief executives are optimistic about the future of private equity, according to a survey by Notch Partners.

The survey of 166 chief executives, all of whom have experience leading businesses in excess of USD100m in revenues, also found that 57 per cent strongly agree that the current economic environment will create numerous attractive buying options in the year ahead.

Although generally positive in their outlook, chief executives were split on views concerning the impact of the current slowdown on private equity.

Forty seven per cent of respondents believe the credit crisis will have a "significant, long-term effect on the structure of the private equity industry," while 48 per cent view the credit crunch as a "temporary phenomenon" with limited long term impact.

A further 43 per cent believe recent developments in the credit market are good for private equity.

Despite the current deal environment, the survey found that chief executives are attracted to private equity as a career option, with 92 per cent agreeing that leading a private equity backed company is a "very desirable career option," and 78 per cent agreeing that leading a private equity-backed company is a better career option than leading a publicly-owned business.

Jenny Ming, a member of the Notch Partners Private Equity CEO Council, former chief executive of Old Navy and current operating partner with Advent International, says she was "not surprised" at the overall positive view of chief executives regarding recent events.

"People are taking a breather right now, but some of us are eager to look at acquisition targets in early 2009," she says.

Ross Pillari, former chairman & chief executive of BP America and a Notch Partners Private Equity CEO Council member, adds: "The survey shows that private equity savvy chief executives view this downturn as creating buying opportunities. For firms seeking ambitious, forward-looking chief executives, the outlook for attracting high-quality talent is good."

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