Grasshopper or freak?

In the 2000s in particular, financial investors struggled with image problems. The reputation of the industry has changed since then. Whether they use or harm companies – studies see it differently.

Social democrat Franz Müntefering once compared financial investors with locusts.

AWhen asked about the image of their industry, private equity managers tend to react annoyed or even offended. Ulrike Hinrichs is not one of them. The managing director of the German industry association BVK is seldom at a loss for a blunt counter-speech. For example, when dioceses assess private equity as morally problematic – but large church pension funds invest hundreds of millions of euros annually, as it turned out a few years ago. She then states “a certain bigotry”, with relish referring to lively returns on employee pensions. “Here the churches have to correct their picture.”

At the beginning of May 2011, Hinrichs took up the post as chief lobbyist in Berlin, and in the ten years she believes a lot has happened in terms of the reputation of the holding companies: “I would say we went from grasshopper to frigid”, says Hinrichs in the video -Conversation with the FAZ “Heuschrecke”, that is the unforgettable term that the German Social Democrat Franz Müntefering coined for financial investors in the 2000s – in the Netherlands, incidentally, the Christian Democratic Economics Minister Joop Wijn used the same term (“sprinkhanen”) a little later.