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Locust is a pejorative term derived from the German word Heuschrecke, which German politician Franz Müntefering (from the social democratic SPD party) created in the context of describing private investors, private equity funds and investment banks. The term has been popularized and is continually used in discussions critical to capitalism in Germany.
In 2004 Franz Müntefering demanded that his party take a critical position towards certain practices of private equity firms. In a speech in November 2004, he first associated private financial investors with locusts:
|“||"We must help companies acting in the interest of their future and the future of their employees against irresponsible locust swarms, who measure success in quarterly intervals, suck off substance and let companies die once they have eaten them bare..." ||”|
This metaphor was repeated several times by both official pamphlets of the SPD and by German media.
Originally, none of the companies were named specifically. However, in 2005, the online news magazine stern.de published an article with a list of companies, namely Apax, BC Partners, Carlyle Group, Advent International, Permira, Blackstone Group, CVC Capital Partners, Saban Capital Group, KKR, WCM, and Goldman Sachs.
While remaining a mostly German phenomenon, "locust" has increasingly been quoted in English and American media, such as in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune , and most recently in the FT and The Economist.
- de.wikipedia.org: Heuschreckendebatte (de:Heuschreckendebatte)
- Translation from SPD: Programmheft I. Tradition und Fortschritt. January 2005 (PDF)
- stern.de: Die Namen der Heuschrecken. April 2005 ()
- netzzeitung: US-Finanzminister übt Kritik an «Heuschrecken»-Debatte, June, 2005()
- Düsseldorf Stock Exchange: Press Release, January, 2006
- New York Times: Germany’s Blackstone Deal Swats Down ‘Locust’ Talk, April, 2006()
- IHT: The buzz on German private equity, October, 2006()
- FTl.com: German deputy still targets ‘locusts’, February, 2007()
- The Economist: Dial L for locust, June, 2007()