Mike supervised my PhD in the mid-1990s, and we continued to work together subsequently. I was one of the few researchers Mike trusted with access to the database.
Following Mike’s passing and CMBOR’s planned closure, CMBOR’s Deputy Director Rod Ball, who had worked with Mike at the Centre for many years, started to look at what the options were.
Rod was really at the nexus of it all. He was determined to protect Mike’s legacy and avoid a situation where the database would simply be given away to commercial data providers.
Rod put me in contact with Jon Tucker, the Faculty Operating Officer at Imperial College Business School, to discuss the possibility of moving CMBOR back to Nottingham. Rod was also in contact with Christiian Marriott at Equistone, who had been long-standing partners and sponsors of CMBOR. Securing Equistone’s support was very important for CMBOR’s future.
I then approached Duncan Angwin, the Dean of Nottingham University Business School, and he was very enthusiastic about bringing CMBOR back to Nottingham. Imperial were happy with the arrangement and Equistone was also onboard. Everything came together and we relaunched CMBOR at Nottingham at the end of May this year.
Rod will stay on to support CMBOR in a consultancy role. That was really important. Rod has collected and tracked the data for decades. It is a labour-intensive exercise, and nobody knows the database better than he does.
Nottingham University has provided some start-up funding to support the move from Imperial, but CMBOR will become self-sufficient. Equistone stays on as a cornerstone sponsor and the centre will continue to generate revenue from the sale of quarterly buyout reports and other data products.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the role Mike’s wife, Maryse Wright, played. She was very supportive to me, providing a lot of encouragement and moral support. I don’t think I would have done this without her encouragement and support. Her opinion of what happened to CMBOR carried a lot of moral weight with all of us involved with CMBOR’s future.
Maryse sees CMBOR as part of Mike’s legacy, which is why she wanted to keep it going. She was also very concerned about the futures of those involved with CMBOR. In the end, she was very happy to see CMBOR continue and has been a constant source of encouragement.
NN: With the organisational elements now in place, what are your plans for CMBOR and where do you see the organisation going?
KA: Succeeding Mike is a daunting task. Mike was a one-off. He was an extraordinarily prolific researcher, publishing more than 40 books and over 300 academic papers. Mike was a big personality at the front of what CMBOR did. He was a pioneer in the research of private equity and the CMBOR database put him at the forefront of the field as there weren’t any other data providers around in the 1980s and 1990s.
For the next phase of CMBOR’s development, my focus is going to be on institutionalising the centre and its data, so that CMBOR’s significant value and knowledge doesn’t reside in a few individuals.
I am also excited about the opportunities for collaboration between CMBOR and other researchers and would like the centre and its database to become a resource for the wider business school, academic community as well as industry.
Across all universities there is a renewed focus on demonstrating how research impacts wider society, beyond academia. Universities are moving away from doing research for its own sake, to seeking opportunities for knowledge exchange with other organisations and businesses. CMBOR has great potential to develop into a gateway between the university and the private equity industry.
Under Mike’s leadership, CMBOR also built a reputation as an authoritative source of buyout data and became a big driver of media publicity for the business schools at Nottingham and Imperial. Maintaining that legacy will be a priority.