MISSION INTANGIBLE

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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Reader's indigestion

Nir Kossovsky - Thursday, August 20, 2009
We are of the opinion that reputation is a consequence of the impression formed by stakeholders based on how a company manages its intangible assets. This puts us at odds with many who argue that the CEO is the standard bearer. The truth, invariably, is in the middle ground. Unless the firm is a secretive private equity firm, in which case, the CEO is the standard bearer and the presumed manager of the fund's intangible assets -- namely, accumen for quality investments.

Which brings us to Ripplewood Holdings and its founder and Chief Executive, Timothy Collins. Earlier this week, Ripplewood and a consortium of other equity investors including heavyweights such as J Rothschild Group, GoldenTree Asset Management, CV Starr, GSO Capital Partners (a Blackstone fund), Merrill Lynch Capital Partners, and Magnetar Capital, saw their $600 million investment in Reader's Digest wiped out in that magazine's Chapter 11 filing.

Here's the reputation angle. According to the Financial Times, the collapse of the venerable magazine that was taken private for $2.8 billion at height of the debt bubble in March 2007 comes just as Collins is seeking to raise $2.5 billion for his next fund, It also comes as another firm in which he is a board member and major shareholder nears a critical stage in the politically loaded auction to buy General Motors' Opel and Vauxhall. Last, it appears he has no more dry powder as Ripplewood has fully invested its last fund.

Collins cemented his reputation with the big profits he made on the acquisition of Long Term Credit Bank in Japan in 2000. He reinforced it with his successful buyout of Japan Telecom in 2003. This year will test his reputation resilience; the proof will be in the speed with which he succeeds in raising the new fund.

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