Managing Corruption Risk in Portfolio Companies: Understanding Liability (Part One of Three)

Attractive private equity (PE) targets have often experienced revenue growth that is not matched by the growth of their governance and compliance programs. Anti-corruption risks persist even after the companies are acquired by PE funds and, in fact, only grow with time as global regulators increasingly enforce laws that may penalize even relatively passive investors. This three-part article series examines the sources of corruption risk and liability for PE firms and discusses the best practices for managing that risk. This first article addresses the compliance and enforcement climate, as well as the risks a PE firm faces related to its portfolio companies. The second article will discuss key components of pre-deal assessment and diligence; explore when to walk away from the deal; and address when it may make sense to invest in companies that have had Foreign Corrupt Practices Act problems. The final article will examine ways to navigate the line between control and passivity when monitoring a firm’s portfolio, along with strategies for handling anti-corruption issues that arise after the deal has closed. See “WilmerHale Attorneys Discuss FCPA Concerns for Private Fund Managers (Part One of Two)” (May 28, 2015); and “Private Equity FCPA Enforcement: High Risk or Hype?” (Feb. 19, 2015).

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