PE HUB Wire Highlights, 10.7.19

Vista launches next mid-market fund; Has fear crept into the PE market?; Wilbur Ross’s super power

There have been a lot of reports about Wilbur Ross, the one-time private equity executive, and his tendency to fall asleep during meetings. Most recently, Commerce Secretary Ross was caught napping for at least 15 minutes during President Donald Trump‘s speech at the U.N. in September, according to several news reports.

Some might think that the napping can be ascribed to Ross’s age. He’s 81-years-old. But I’m hearing that might not necessarily be true. “He’s always been that way,” a GP said. Ross would routinely fall asleep in meetings at WL Ross & Co, the private equity firm he founded and sold to Invesco, the source said. Visitors would often get annoyed by the napping executive but were always told to keep going, the person said. Ross heard everything even as he slept. “He’d wake up and know exactly what had been said or was happening. That’s his superpower,” the source said.

UPDATE: A Commerce spokesman said in an emailed response to questions that there is “no basis” to the claim Ross has been “sleepy, absent, or complacent during his tenure.” Over the past two years, the Commerce Department “has become one of the most sought-after employers in the government, earning two top-three finishes of the ‘Best Places to Work in Federal Government’ in the highly respected Partnership for Public Service’s Large Agency rankings,” the spokesman said. “From 2017 to 2018, employee satisfaction increased by 1.1 percent; no other large agency had a bigger increase.”

I also met up with some private equity and banking sources last week. Many mentioned the R word. Shall I say it? Yes, these people said the U.S. was in a recession right now. Not that we’re going into one but we’re currently experiencing it. There was talk about negative growth, China trade issues and consumer debt. Some bankers also said we’re moving toward a private economy with so many small companies refusing to go public. Of course, they mentioned how expensive it is to go IPO (thanks, SOX) and the overwhelming scrutiny companies endure if they do. It was very doom and gloom.

Hubsters, what say you? Are we in a recession right now? If so, why do you think that? Email me at

In line with this sentiment, Chris this morning is wondering whether fear has crept into the PE markets. It’s been such a strong year for fundraising, it’s hard to believe that 2019 has proven to be a much slower year on the M&A front, he says. Find out what is vexing Chris here.

DealsVSS and Trivest Partners are investing in Quatrro Business Support Services.