As a publicly-listed company, 3i is subject to formal legal and regulatory disclosure requirements as well as the high expectations for transparency of our shareholders, fund investors, employees and the media. We firmly believe that transparency is crucial for building trust, and we take a proactive approach to communicating both financial and non-financial performance.
Our approach to transparency has been encouraged and reinforced by the benefits we believe that we derive from having a good track record on this very important issue. Long before becoming a public company, 3i's annual reports went beyond what was required from a legal perspective.
In 2007, in response to the growing debate about the role of private equity in the UK, the British Venture Capital Association (“BVCA”) suggested a review to examine ways in which levels of disclosure in companies backed by the UK private equity industry could be improved.
The review was led by Sir David Walker, who consulted widely and invited representations from within the private equity industry, other financial institutions, pension funds and the investment community, as well as more broadly with portfolio companies, trade unions and employer representatives. 3i actively supported the review, with involvement from the Chairman.
3i also endorsed the voluntary code which resulted in the "Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity", which was published in November 2007.
Sir David Walker's recommendations with respect to reporting for private equity firms and their relevant portfolio companies were on a "comply or explain" basis. An overview of the guidelines together with the sixth annual report of the Walker Guidelines Monitoring Group (which monitors and reports on the UK private equity industry’s conformity with the guidelines) at December 2013 can be found at www.walker-gmg.co.uk. 3i portfolio companies which met the criteria set out in the guidelines and were included in the sixth annual report were Civica, Enterprise, Environmental Scientifics Group, Eversholt Rail and Osprey (Anglian Water Group).
From first meeting to realisation, we aim to take an open and straightforward approach to doing business with our portfolio companies. As engaged investors, often with the benefit of representation on our portfolio company boards, we have numerous opportunities for communication and feedback with our portfolio.
We aim to provide investors in 3i Group plc, and all of the funds we manage or advise with the highest standards of communications. We do this in many ways including our Investor Relations section of the website and regular investor meetings, as well as through the various other forms of interaction that take place, including the Annual General Meeting and occasional capital market days and other such forums. In relation to the investors in the funds which we manage or advise, we prepare regular, detailed reports for each fund which include details of each investment in the fund’s portfolio as well as regular formal and informal investor meetings.
We believe that it is important to keep our staff well informed about what 3i is doing. As we have a relatively small number of employees, we are able to achieve this through a combination of using efficient web-based tools, such as our online portal, and individual or team based discussions.