Landmark Partners is finally able to put the Connecticut Pension Fund scandal behind it, but can a buyout firm rebound from years of negative attention from the press? Buyouts spoke with Francisco Borges, president and managing partner at Landmark, about the effects of bad press and making a comeback.
Buyouts: Has the situation with the Connecticut pension fund affected morale either within the firm or among LPs?
FB: I am very appreciative and pleased with the confidence and support received from our limited partners during this time. Early on we took immediate steps to both communicate candidly with each of our partners and to seek quick resolution of the issue.
Further, we took steps organizationally to ensure that this matter would not be a distraction for the firm. We were successful in accomplishing both.
As for firm morale, I am very proud of the Landmark organization, our people and the more than decade-long record of producing consistently superior results for our partners. Throughout this time our organization has remained intact, focused and committed to our number one mission which is delivering outstanding investment performance.
Over the next several weeks and months our efforts will be geared towards the final closing of Landmark Private Equity Fund X, LP., a secondary partnership with $340 million of closed commitments to date and the marketing of Landmark Real Estate Fund IV, our third real estate secondary fund, and Landmark Growth Capital Fund which expands our investment programs into direct deals. With a very robust pipeline of investment opportunities we are very pleased with the prospects for the future.
Buyouts: Have you had to spend any extra time with the LPs involved with Landmark to assure them that the firm will continue to perform well?
FB: Our partners have been very supportive throughout this time and we are most appreciative. At Landmark, our operating philosophy is that our partners should always be fully informed, they should know what we know, they should not ever be surprised, and finally communication must be frequent open and candid. This is exactly how we have handled this situation. My partners and I have personally communicated with all of our limited partners as well as consultants and advisors to them.
Buyouts: Landmark has received a lot of press coverage in recent months – what kind of impact can bad press have?
FB: Bad press is not good for any business and it certainly has its impact. We have been fortunate in that we have a strong, well recognized market reputation and presence built over a decade and a solid, supportive investor base who know us, our reputation and track record for innovation and performance. Our plans going forward are to build on these attributes and capabilities in much the same manner we have done so successfully in past.
Buyouts: Where do you mainly feel the backlash from negative press?
FB: I can get pretty exercised on this issue, particularly when important details are left out or the reporting is plainly inaccurate. I have interacted with the press at the local, state and national level extensively during my public and private sector service and generally believe that the media does a good job and performs an important public service, however, one of the real challenges for reporters today given deadlines, speed of information, competition, etc., is taking the time to understand the subject and the underlying facts. Inaccurate or incomplete reporting is potentially very damaging even when corrected later.
Buyouts: You have been relatively open with the press throughout this situation, what made you decide that was the best way to handle it?
FB: I have always believed that whenever possible and appropriate one should be open to the press. It is the most effective way to minimize inaccuracies and misperceptions. We run a good business. We have always run a good business. We have an outstanding market reputation and consistently superior investment results, 34% net returns over a decade. We have a good story, why not tell it?
Buyouts: Through your career and involvement with the media, what have you found to be the best ways to work with the media to assure accuracy?
FB: My experience has always been that it’s important to take the time to make sure that whomever you are talking with is fully informed. It is the most effective way of minimizing misinformation. It is very important to be open and candid and if you can’t comment on a subject for some legitimate reason, tell the reporter exactly that and that when you do have something to say you will call them. My experience has been that most reporters will appreciate it.
Finally, take the time to let the media get to know you and your organization. The more informed they are the better.