Blair Declines To Support Private Equity Inquiry

Feb 28 2007 | 12:36pm ET

For the second time in as many days, British Prime Minister Tony Blair indicated that the U.K. would not pursue restrictions on private equity activity.

During weekly question time in the House of Commons, Blair was asked by Michael Meacher—a left-wing member of his own Labour Party who accused p.e. firms of “going after healthy, well-managed companies with a large cash flow, often extracting huge personal gains at the expense of enormous job losses and crippling a firm with large debt”—if he would launch an inquiry into p.e. practices. There is a need, Meacher said, for p.e. firms “to produce in each case a clear contractual statement of their impact on the public interest.”

Blair, who yesterday emphasized the benefits of private equity activity to the British economy, swatted away the query, noting that “the single most important thing for us as a government is to keep our economy strong.” He added, “I totally understand the concerns about private equity firms, but it is important to recognize that we live in a global market.”

Blair also took a shot at Meacher’s chances of succeeding Blair as prime minister when the former steps down later this year. “Despite the obvious interest in and attraction of seeing my right honorable friend at the dispatch box,” Blair said, “I think that will continue, but probably not under him.”

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