PERG | Private Equity Reporting Group Publishes UK Private Equity Annual Public Reports - 20 February 2023

Private Equity Reporting Group publishes UK Private Equity Annual Public Reports

  • New approach to making UK private equity industry more transparent and accessible
  • 2022 financial disclosures show that private equity investments average 5.9 years
  • Performance and leverage levels impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

The UK Private Equity Annual Public Reports bring together three separate annual reports which seek to provide enhanced transparency and disclosures by some of the largest UK portfolio companies and their private equity owners.

Specifically, they fall within the scope of the Walker Guidelines, first established in 2007, which provides the framework for the private equity industry to disclose information relating to UK-based portfolio companies and encourage a greater level of disclosure across the industry. The publication of the reports aims to present independently prepared information clearly and simply, to inform the broader business and public debate on the impact of private equity ownership on large businesses.

The ‘Annual Report of the Private Equity Reporting Group’, the ‘Good Practice Reporting Guide for portfolio companies’, and the ‘Annual Report on the performance of portfolio companies’ are the 15th in a series of yearly reports compiled by and for the Private Equity Reporting Group (PERG), the independent body setup to assess the industry on behalf of the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA). Collectively, the three reports demonstrate the private equity industry’s commitment to good practice financial reporting.

Making the industry’s annual reports more accessible

As well as publishing each of the reports separately, this year the key findings have been brought together in one simple overview, as the Private Equity Annual Public Reports. For the first time, all reports and key metrics will be available via a new microsite to make the information more readily available.

In addition, the annual reporting process has been expanded to include sector breakdowns on certain data points, including changes in growth, productivity and financial leverage that portfolio companies experience under private equity ownership. In terms of debt, for example, the reports set out clearly and simply the average levels of financial leverage in portfolio companies at acquisition and then at exit or the time of reporting.

Compliance and disclosures

  • All the annual reports reviewed for this report are compliant with the Sir David Walker guidelines for disclosure and transparency in private equity, with 60% doing so to at least a good standard and the remaining 40% doing so to a basic standard.
  • The quality of disclosure of non-financial KPIs remains unchanged compared to last year, although notably the quality and depth of the disclosures in relation to environmental matters has improved.
  • The majority of disclosures in respect of social, community and human rights issues are basic and should be a focus of improvement next year.
  • The vast majority of companies upheld their transparency requirements and published annual reports and mid-year updates in a timely manner.

2022 financial performance

Highlights from this year’s portfolio company performance report include:

  • 2021 trading performance in the current portfolio companies varies at both a sector and company level. On average, however, portfolio companies have increased reported revenue at 7.8% CAGR since acquisition (2020: 4.9%).
  • The average timeframe of UK Private Equity (PE) investment in portfolio companies is 5.9 years, from initial acquisition to exit.
  • Portfolio companies have shown an increase in leverage under PE ownership, which has been driven by additional investments and recapitalisation following the impact of COVID-19 in 2021.
  • Reported employment under PE ownership increased to 1.5% per annum (2020: 0.9%) following acquisition.
  • The consumer and infrastructure sectors outperformed other sectors in terms of year-on-year organic growth.
  • The average employment cost per head in the portfolio companies has increased by 2.1% per annum under PE ownership (2020: 1.8%). Average annual employee compensation growth under PE ownership is consistent with the UK private sector benchmark at 2.1%, representing an increase compared with the previous year.
Michael Moore

Director General of the BVCA, said:

“Questions have been raised about the value and sustainability of private equity investment in the UK. Today, the industry is responding to those questions. When presented with a similar challenge in 2007, the Private Equity Reporting Group – the independent body responsible improving disclosure and transparency in private equity – delivered the Walker Guidelines, and today the reports are refreshed for a new decade. The renewed approach helps provide a better understanding of the industry and tell a clearer story about its role in the UK economy. The BVCA wholeheartedly endorses the renewed Guidelines and believes that greater transparency will bring with it greater trust in the industry.”
Nick Land

Chair of PERG, said:

“The refresh of the Walker Guideline reports provides an opportunity to articulate the considerable contribution to the UK economy that private equity makes. We hope the Guidelines continue to do away with myths about the industry and help to build trust in a sector which plays a leading role in the UK economy and society. We were pleased that all the reports reviewed were compliant with the Guidelines this year, and improvements continue to be made in the depth of disclosures relating to climate. The quality of public company disclosures is improving every year, meaning more will be expected of portfolio companies too. We hope to see firms up their game and build on this year’s reporting to meet the growing demand for greater quality disclosures.”

Overview of the reports

The UK Private Equity Annual Public Reporting process brings together three separate annual reports which seek to promote enhanced reporting and disclosure by the largest UK portfolio companies and their private equity owners. Designed to be read in tandem, the reports underpin the private equity industry’s efforts to increase transparency and support the UK economy:

  • The Annual report of the Private Equity Reporting Group can be found here. It sets out the findings of a review of a sample of 25 portfolio companies (one third of the population) to report on the level of compliance with the Guidelines on Transparency and Disclosure in Private Equity revised July 2014 (‘the Guidelines’). The population was confirmed as 31 December 2021.
  • The EY annual report on the performance of portfolio companies can be found here. The report covers 73 portfolio companies, as defined according to the criteria of the Walker Guidelines, as at the 2021 financial report year, as well as a further 113 portfolio companies that have been owned and exited since 2005.
  • The PwC Good Practice Guide on improving transparency and disclosure can be found here. This guide is prepared to assist portfolio companies when prepare their additional disclosures as well as to demonstrate the best practice in a particular the year.


According to a report commissioned by the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association last year, two million jobs are supported by private capital in the UK (this includes both private equity and venture capital). The [Annual Public Report] has found that, within the private equity portfolio companies within scope, specifically:

  • Around 31% of jobs in the portfolio companies (which includes both part time and full-time jobs) have annual compensation of less than £12,500. This is impacted by a high proportion of workers in the health care and consumer services sector. This is however a lower number of employees than last year (2020: 38%).
  • Average annual employee compensation growth under PE ownership is consistent with the UK private sector benchmark at 2.1%, representing an increase compared with the previous year.
  • Female representation is 51% (2020: 50%) at an overall employee level across the current portfolio companies and 26% (2020: 24%) at the Director level. By way of comparison, 37% (2020: 33%) of FTSE 250 board positions are held by females.

Oversight of the industry

The PERG, which was established in 2008 and makes periodic recommendations to the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA), reviews the industry’s compliance in adherence with the Walker Guidelines. The Guidelines provide a framework for the private equity industry to improve the public’s understanding of industry activities and address concerns about a lack of transparency.

Read the reports

Published 20 February 2023

Media Contacts

For further information, to learn more about the PERG or the Guidelines contact [email protected].

Notes to editors

Reports published

Published 20 February 2023

The Walker Guidelines

In February 2007, the BVCA asked Sir David Walker to undertake an independent review of the adequacy of disclosure and transparency in private equity, with a view to recommending a set of guidelines for conformity by the industry on a voluntary basis. This review resulted in the publication of the Guidelines in November 2007.

The Guidelines have four main components – three that apply to portfolio companies and a fourth that applies to the private equity firms managing or advising funds that own the portfolio companies:

  • Portfolio companies should prepare disclosures as stipulated in the Guidelines in their audited annual report and financial statements, and prepare a mid-year update.
  • Portfolio companies are required to publish their annual report and a mid-year update in a timely and accessible manner on their company website.
  • Private equity firms should publish certain disclosures on their own website.
  • Portfolio companies are required to share certain data, which is presented in an aggregated performance report by EY to illustrate the contribution of private equity to the UK economy.
  • The Guidelines operate on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.

The Private Equity Reporting Group

The Private Equity Reporting Group (PERG) is an independent body that was established in March 2008 to monitor conformity with the Guidelines and make periodic recommendations to the BVCA for changes to the Guidelines if required.

The PERG is chaired by Nick Land, a non-executive director on a number of boards and previously the executive chairman of EY in the UK. He is supported by two other independent members: Baroness Drake, a labour peer and former president of the TUC, and Glyn Parry, an experienced finance director working with FTSE companies such as BT Group.

Representing the private equity industry are Ralf Gruss, Chief Operating Officer at Apax Partners, and Tony Lissaman, Chief Operating Officer of 3i Group’s private equity business.

More information about the PERG can be found here.

Population within the scope of the Walker Guidelines

The review covers 73 portfolio companies that fall within the scope of the Guidelines and the 64 firms that back them (private equity firms and those operating in a private-equity like manner).