Angry Oxford Academic Sees Himself in Hamilton Lane’s Harsh Tale

A fictional professor named Pluto Haddock is at the center of a public spat between a giant of private investing and a critic of the industry.

Hamilton Lane Inc.’s recent market report went beyond typical stats and predictions to include a made-up debate between Haddock, illustrated as a duck, and “up-and-coming musician” Baylor Slift over the merits of investing in the red-hot asset class. Slift, drawn as a mouse, pushes back against Haddock’s effort to dissuade her from investing, deriding the professor’s research.

Now, real-life University of Oxford professor Ludovic Phalippou said in a LinkedIn post that Haddock was a veiled reference to him. He has challenged Hamilton Lane to a debate on the merits of private equity.

“Hamilton Lane decides to openly insult me, ridicule me, misquote me, and attack me,” Phalippou wrote in the post.

The clash places one of private equity’s loudest critics against one of the sector’s biggest promoters. The Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania-based alternative-asset manager oversees about $657 billion and provides investment management and advisory services. Phalippou has criticized private equity funds for overstating their performance.

The firm said the report was a humorous take on common academic arguments made against the private equity industry and not about Phalippou or any individual critic.

“Professor Pluto Haddock represents a generic version of the various academic perspectives against the private markets industry,” a spokesperson for the firm said. “We would encourage everyone to take this in the spirit in which it was intended, a fictional lively discussion around industry data and findings.”

In a follow up LinkedIn post, the Oxford professor also took issue with Haddock’s comment that academics are for sale and would write positive reports if paid to by the private equity industry. Phalippou said he had yet to hear from Hamilton Lane regarding his complaint.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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