peHUB First Read

Some links to kick off your Marathon Monday:

* Private equity in Iraq?

* J.C. Flowers pulls out of Friends Provident process. Chris Flowers is officially the biggest tease in private equity.

* The Deal discusses Fas 157 — the most important private equity issue that not enough of us are reporting on.

* First quarter VC data is in, and shows an 8.5% drop from Q4 2007. On the upsidem, it was still the fifth-busiest quarter since 2001. Here is the actual data, for your downloading pleasure: National stats (NatStats.xls), regional stats (regional.xls) and Top 10 deals (Top10.xls).

* Bear Stearns’ new “hires” become job seekers.

* The BBC is reportedly in talks with several private equity firms, to buy Virgin Media Television.