Fund Managers Diary

Hamish Mair is director, head of private equity funds at F&C Investments. His diary runs from May 20-26.

Wednesday The day begins at home with an 8am conference call. One of our investee firms, of which I am a director, has a meeting with its bank coming up. This call is the latest in a series and the stakes are high for investors and management. The company chairman’s experience is telling and I am impressed by his handling of the complex issues. The call continues on the car phone as I drive to the office in George Street, which is where most of Scotland’s private equity industry is based.

I have a meeting with our bank to discuss ways of financing our investment trust. The issue is not the price of credit but the availability, which is limited. Later, I join a colleague for a conference call on a major secondary transaction we are working on. This is where we buy an existing portfolio of funds or direct investments. These can be acquired at good prices, improving the future returns for our investors.

I work on the stock exchange announcement for F&C Private Equity Trust. This has to be carefully worded and I check it with two sets of advisers.

Thursday One of my colleagues has returned from a conference on clean energy investment. There are opportunities for private equity investors in this area, providing one is backing management teams who are not only ideologically committed but are also good businessmen.

After a meeting with my architect to discuss my forthcoming house extension, I have a short catch-up call with my boss in London. Our team operates largely autonomously but every fortnight I have a regular slot either by phone or in person. In the evening I drive to Port Edgar for a spot of sailing on the Firth of Forth. I am a novice and the strange names for the ropes (sheets) are confusing.

Friday I am joined by my son Fergus and his friend Stephen.

Having finished their exams they are having a ‘work experience’ day. The ladies in the office give them miniature rugby balls and chocolates with the F&C logo on. We finish preparing the AGM presentation. Have a meeting with the chief executive of one of our investee firms. His company is involved in healthcare and this is proving a defensive area with some opportunities for substantial growth. We would expect to hold this position for three or four years and make a multiple of two or three times our original investment.

Weekend While the extension is being built we plan to move out for six months. We have to move tonnes of stuff, which takes most of the weekend. On Saturday night we attend a friend’s 40th birthday party.

Monday It’s my birthday but this goes largely unnoticed as the children go off to school. It is a bank holiday and once again I go sailing.

Tuesday We have a quarterly board meeting for F&C Private Equity Trust. As the manager, I report to the board on the investment performance and all corporate and shareholder issues. While we discuss the short-term challenges of the credit crunch, the board keeps its eye on the long-term interests of shareholders. After the meeting we hold our AGM, where I give a presentation on the trust, market and outlook.

Throughout the week I am bombarded by private equity managers and placing agents looking to raise funds. Just the credible ones account for over 300 a year and processing these, coupled with managing over 70 existing fund positions and nearly 20 direct positions, keeps our team of six investment professionals busy.