Lex Gets Lazy on PE Fee Story

Reading today’s Lex column on private equity, I was reminded of an old Stephen Colbert line about President Bush: “He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.”

The shoddy column was about last week’s sit-down between a group of big buyout firm executives and big pension fund managers, over the issue of fund structure guidelines published last September by the Institutional Limited Partner Association (ILPA).

The guidelines deal heavily with the issue of fees and fee-sharing, so it was reasonable to assume that fees would be a major topic of conversation. Following the meeting, however, a source in attendance told me that fees actually weren’t discussed. A source also told my Reuters colleague Megan Davies, and we both wrote about it (me here, Megan here)

So imagine my surprise when Lex led with this:

Private equity managers would have trudged reluctantly to last week’s meeting with some of the industry’s biggest investors. The topic for discussion: fees. According to Bloomberg, influential buy-out groups including KKR and TPG were due to meet big-name limited partners to thrash out how their future relationship would work.

The talks were private. However, they will most likely have centred round the “2 and 20” fee model.

So, to be clear: Lex used a dated Bloomberg story to “report” on the “topic for discussion,” even though subsequent stories specifically state that said topic was not discussed. I’m not criticizing the writer for not diligently reading peHUB, but rather for reporting on an event without making any apparent effort to learn what actually happened. It would be like writing about how the Yankees beat the Red Sox on opening night,  because some pre-game stories said they would.