BVCA turns to spin doctor to revive fortunes

Simon Walker, a senior adviser to the chairman and chief executive of Reuters, has been named as the new CEO of the BVCA, taking over from caretaker John Mackie,following the resignation of Peter Linthwaite in June.

The BVCA has for the first time opted to elect someone outside the private equity industry, appointing a veteran of the PR world, having previously been communications secretary to The Queen and a director of corporate affairs at British Airways.

Wol Kolade, BVCA Chairman, said: “We are very pleased that Simon is going to be leading the BVCA. With his background in campaigning, journalism, Whitehall and Brussels and his broad experience of communications at some of the highest profile institutions and companies in Britain, he has got just the mix of skills that we were looking for.”

Kolade headed up a selection committee consisting of Jeremy Hand, BVCA vice-chairman and managing partners at Lyceum Capital Partners, Simon Havers, chairman of the BVCA Training Committee, UK head at Baird Capital Partners Europe, Lord Hollick managing partner at KKR, Andrew Joy, former chairman of the BVCA and a partner at Cinven, and Jo Taylor, chairman of the BVCA Venture Committee, and managing partner of venture at 3i.

Simon Walker joined Reuters in January 2003 as director of corporate communications, subsequently becoming director of corporate communications and marketing. Prior to this he was communications secretary to HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace, and was previously director of corporate affairs at British Airways and a non-executive director of Comair Ltd (South Africa). He was a special adviser in the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street between 1996 and 1997.

Walker said: “I am delighted to be joining the BVCA. The private equity and venture capital industry is making a huge contribution to the economy and to the welfare of millions of pensioners, consumers and working people. Its success is at the heart of Britain’s leadership of global financial services. The private equity industry is moving towards new levels of openness and transparency. This will help show the wider community how it fosters innovation, employment and enterprise.”

Before his stint in the upper echelons of state power, Walker was a partner at PR firm Brunswick and director of European public affairs for Hill & Knowlton in Brussels. He was born in South Africa, and has worked as a journalist and consultant in New Zealand, Belgium and the UK. He is a member of the Better Regulation Commission, a member of the UK-Jamestown Committee and a Trustee of the New Zealand-UK Link Foundation. He read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was President of the Oxford Union. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. He is married with two children.