Generous Gift to London Business School Will Fund Private Equity Research
Earlier this month, London Business School (LBS) announced that it has received a multi-million pound donation to help establish the world’s premier institute for private equity education and research. The donation comes from the family foundation of Jeremy Coller, who heads Coller Capital, one of the United Kingdom’s largest private equity firms.
The new center, called the Coller Institute of Private Equity, will expand LBS’s current private equity program into one of the most advanced in the world through the addition of MBA electives and executive education courses. It also will provide a platform for cutting-edge research and a forum for debate and knowledge exchange within the private equity and venture capital ecosystem.
“London Business School is the obvious home for the Coller Institute – it is Europe’s leading business school, has a truly global perspective and is situated in a worldwide hub for private equity,” Coller said in a statement announcing the new center.
In an article in the Financial Times, Coller expressed confidence that the private equity industry is here to stay despite the recent credit crunch. “It is foolish to say this is the beginning of the end. We are right at the beginning of private equity,” he told the FT.
Coller’s £3m-£8m ($5m-$14m, €4m-€10m) donation is designed to secure LBS’s spot as the pre-eminent place to study and research private equity. “To make a more sophisticated market, there needs to be more academic research,” he told the FT. “We want to learn more about ourselves in the industry and to have more case studies,” he continued.
Private equity – the use of long-term capital from investors and loans from banks to buy companies with the aim of selling them a few years later for a higher price – has suffered from a poor public image, something Coller believes would shift if only the industry were better understood, according to the FT article.
In fact, Coller says, private equity is “democratizing wealth,” allowing retirees and savers to invest their pension funds and replace the church and aristocracy as the biggest owners of private assets.
“[It’s] moving from ownership by the few to ownership by the many,” he told the FT. “What the man in the street needs to realize is that they can take ownership of their pension fund.”
Even before Coller’s recent generous donation, LBS’s private equity program was one of the biggest in the field, with 340 students signed up to join the course this year. According to Professor Eli Talmor, who will serve as the first chairman of the Coller Institute, 16 per cent of students applying to LBS want to join private equity, and the private equity club, with 2,000 members, is the school’s largest professional club.
“We have been working on a shoestring and this money will give us the stability and ensure we are around forever,” Talmor told the FT. “This will allow us to do more ground-breaking research and to organize further events around private equity.”
To learn more about the new Coller Institute of Private Equity at LBS, click here.