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Dear [MEP personalised],

Europe’s SMEs deserve fair treatment and stable investment

I write on behalf of my peers and co-signatories, who are the owners and managers of small and medium sized enterprises from across the EU. SMEs form the bedrock of economic activity across Europe and their ability to generate jobs and contribute to wider growth and prosperity is critical in meeting the goals of the EU’s 2020 Strategy. It is from this fertile breeding ground of innovation that the European and international leaders of tomorrow will emerge.  

Growth businesses require access to long term sources of finance. In the present climate, such finance is scarce, but one important source is private equity and venture capital. These long-term investors provide the capital and expertise necessary to nurture businesses and to propel them on to the next stage in their development.  

We represent a slice of the 25,000-plus population of European businesses that currently benefit from private equity and venture capital support. We are therefore increasingly alarmed by proposals within the EU’s draft Alternative Investment Fund Management Directive that would prejudice private equity and venture capital-backed companies such as ours, and ultimately restrict access to finance for Europe’s growth companies.

We can see no justification to prejudice our companies or to include them in a Directive targeting fund managers. Efforts to do so would distort the market, harm finance for innovation and company growth and ultimately inhibit Europe’s economic recovery.

Of particular concern are proposed disclosure obligations for private equity and venture-backed businesses. We do not oppose increased transparency across Europe whatever the type of company or sector it operates within. At the same time, we believe there should be a level playing field for all. We do not see why the law should discriminate against different types of privately owned companies. We do not see why there should be one set of rules for private equity and venture-backed businesses and a different set of rules for their competitors just because of other types of ownership – whether owned by families, oligarchs or large conglomerates. If protections are necessary, they should be afforded to stakeholders of all private businesses, and dealt with through horizontal company law.

Compounding this are proposals to disclose matters which are for the board of a company to determine, such as information related to the development or research policy of a company. Measures which call for unequal levels of disclosure would be

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