Private equity


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Raising Venture Capital Finance in Europe: Private equity is, strictly speaking, a type of equity and one of the asset classes consisting of equity securities and debt in operating companies that are not publicly traded on a stock exchange. A private equity investment will generally be made by a private equity firm , a venture capital firm or an angel investor.

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A private equity fund is a collective investment scheme used for making investments in various equity (and to a lesser extent debt) securities according to one of the investment strategies associated with private equity.

Being able to secure financing is critical to any business, whether it is a start-up seeking venture capital or a mid-sized firm that needs more cash to grow. Although venture capital is often most closely associated with fast-growing technology , healthcare and biotechnology fields, venture funding has been used for other more traditional businesses.

Investors generally commit to venture capital funds as part of a wider diversified private equity portfolio , but also to pursue the larger returns the strategy has the potential to offer. However, venture capital funds have produced lower returns for investors over recent years compared to other private equity fund types, particularly buyout. Distressed or Special Situations is a broad category referring to investments in equity or debt securities of financially stressed companies.

In addition to these private equity strategies, hedge funds employ a variety of distressed investment strategies including the active trading of loans and bonds issued by distressed companies.

Secondary investments refer to investments made in existing private equity assets. These transactions can involve the sale of private equity fund interests or portfolios of direct investments in privately held companies through the purchase of these investments from existing institutional investors.

Secondary investments provide institutional investors with the ability to improve vintage diversification, particularly for investors that are new to the asset class. Secondaries also typically experience a different cash flow profile, diminishing the j-curve effect of investing in new private equity funds.

The seeds of the US private equity industry were planted in with the founding of two venture capital firms: Morgan arguably managed the first leveraged buyout of the Carnegie Steel Company using private equity.

The first leveraged buyout may have been the purchase by McLean Industries, Inc. These investment vehicles would utilize a number of the same tactics and target the same type of companies as more traditional leveraged buyouts and in many ways could be considered a forerunner of the later private equity firms.

In fact it is Posner who is often credited with coining the term " leveraged buyout " or "LBO" [55]. The leveraged buyout boom of the s was conceived by a number of corporate financiers, most notably Jerome Kohlberg Jr.

Working for Bear Stearns at the time, Kohlberg and Kravis along with Kravis' cousin George Roberts began a series of what they described as "bootstrap" investments. Many of these companies lacked a viable or attractive exit for their founders as they were too small to be taken public and the founders were reluctant to sell out to competitors and so a sale to a financial buyer could prove attractive. Their acquisition of Orkin Exterminating Company in is among the first significant leveraged buyout transactions.

The success of the Gibson Greetings investment attracted the attention of the wider media to the nascent boom in leveraged buyouts. During the s, constituencies within acquired companies and the media ascribed the " corporate raid " label to many private equity investments, particularly those that featured a hostile takeover of the company, perceived asset stripping , major layoffs or other significant corporate restructuring activities.

Carl Icahn developed a reputation as a ruthless corporate raider after his hostile takeover of TWA in One of the final major buyouts of the s proved to be its most ambitious and marked both a high-water mark and a sign of the beginning of the end of the boom that had begun nearly a decade earlier.

It was, at that time and for over 17 years, the largest leveraged buyout in history. The event was chronicled in the book and later the movie , Barbarians at the Gate: Many of the major banking players of the day, including Morgan Stanley , Goldman Sachs , Salomon Brothers , and Merrill Lynch were actively involved in advising and financing the parties. In and , a number of leveraged buyout transactions were completed that for the first time surpassed the RJR Nabisco leveraged buyout in terms of nominal purchase price.

However, adjusted for inflation, none of the leveraged buyouts of the — period would surpass RJR Nabisco. By the end of the s the excesses of the buyout market were beginning to show, with the bankruptcy of several large buyouts including Robert Campeau 's buyout of Federated Department Stores , the buyout of the Revco drug stores, Walter Industries, FEB Trucking and Eaton Leonard.

Drexel reached an agreement with the government in which it pleaded nolo contendere no contest to six felonies — three counts of stock parking and three counts of stock manipulation.

Milken left the firm after his own indictment in March Brady , the U. The combination of decreasing interest rates, loosening lending standards and regulatory changes for publicly traded companies specifically the Sarbanes-Oxley Act would set the stage for the largest boom private equity had seen.

Marked by the buyout of Dex Media in , large multibillion-dollar U. As ended and began, new "largest buyout" records were set and surpassed several times with nine of the top ten buyouts at the end of having been announced in an month window from the beginning of through the middle of In , private equity firms bought U. In July , turmoil that had been affecting the mortgage markets , spilled over into the leveraged finance and high-yield debt markets.

July and August saw a notable slowdown in issuance levels in the high yield and leveraged loan markets with few issuers accessing the market. Uncertain market conditions led to a significant widening of yield spreads, which coupled with the typical summer slowdown led many companies and investment banks to put their plans to issue debt on hold until the autumn. However, the expected rebound in the market after 1 May did not materialize, and the lack of market confidence prevented deals from pricing.

By the end of September, the full extent of the credit situation became obvious as major lenders including Citigroup and UBS AG announced major writedowns due to credit losses. The leveraged finance markets came to a near standstill during a week in Nevertheless, private equity continues to be a large and active asset class and the private equity firms, with hundreds of billions of dollars of committed capital from investors are looking to deploy capital in new and different transactions.

As a result of the global financial crisis, private equity has become subject to increased regulation in Europe and is now subject, among other things, to rules preventing asset stripping of portfolio companies and requiring the notification and disclosure of information in connection with buy-out activity.

Although the capital for private equity originally came from individual investors or corporations, in the s, private equity became an asset class in which various institutional investors allocated capital in the hopes of achieving risk adjusted returns that exceed those possible in the public equity markets.

In the s, insurers were major private equity investors. Later, public pension funds and university and other endowments became more significant sources of capital. US, Canadian and European public and private pension schemes have invested in the asset class since the early s to diversify away from their core holdings public equity and fixed income. Most institutional investors do not invest directly in privately held companies , lacking the expertise and resources necessary to structure and monitor the investment.

Instead, institutional investors will invest indirectly through a private equity fund. Certain institutional investors have the scale necessary to develop a diversified portfolio of private equity funds themselves, while others will invest through a fund of funds to allow a portfolio more diversified than one a single investor could construct. Returns on private equity investments are created through one or a combination of three factors that include: A key component of private equity as an asset class for institutional investors is that investments are typically realized after some period of time, which will vary depending on the investment strategy.

Private equity investments are typically realized through one of the following avenues:. Large institutional asset owners such as pension funds with typically long-dated liabilities , insurance companies, sovereign wealth and national reserve funds have a generally low likelihood of facing liquidity shocks in the medium term, and thus can afford the required long holding periods characteristic of private equity investment.

The median horizon for a LBO transaction is 8 years. The private equity secondary market also often called private equity secondaries refers to the buying and selling of pre-existing investor commitments to private equity and other alternative investment funds.

Sellers of private equity investments sell not only the investments in the fund but also their remaining unfunded commitments to the funds. By its nature, the private equity asset class is illiquid, intended to be a long-term investment for buy-and-hold investors. For the vast majority of private equity investments, there is no listed public market; however, there is a robust and maturing secondary market available for sellers of private equity assets. Increasingly, secondaries are considered a distinct asset class with a cash flow profile that is not correlated with other private equity investments.

As a result, investors are allocating capital to secondary investments to diversify their private equity programs. Driven by strong demand for private equity exposure, a significant amount of capital has been committed to secondary investments from investors looking to increase and diversify their private equity exposure.

Investors seeking access to private equity have been restricted to investments with structural impediments such as long lock-up periods, lack of transparency, unlimited leverage, concentrated holdings of illiquid securities and high investment minimums. According to an updated ranking created by industry magazine Private Equity International [88] published by PEI Media called the PEI , the largest private equity firm in the world today is The Blackstone Group based on the amount of private equity direct-investment capital raised over a five-year window.

The 10 most prominent private equity firms in the world are:. Because private equity firms are continuously in the process of raising, investing and distributing their private equity funds , capital raised can often be the easiest to measure.

Other metrics can include the total value of companies purchased by a firm or an estimate of the size of a firm's active portfolio plus capital available for new investments. As with any list that focuses on size, the list does not provide any indication as to relative investment performance of these funds or managers.

Additionally, Preqin formerly known as Private Equity Intelligence , an independent data provider, ranks the 25 largest private equity investment managers. Invest Europe publishes a yearbook which analyses industry trends derived from data disclosed by over 1, European private equity funds.

The investment strategies of private equity firms differ to those of hedge funds. Typically, private equity investment groups are geared towards long-hold, multiple-year investment strategies in illiquid assets whole companies, large-scale real estate projects, or other tangibles not easily converted to cash where they have more control and influence over operations or asset management to influence their long-term returns.

Hedge funds usually focus on short or medium term liquid securities which are more quickly convertible to cash, and they do not have direct control over the business or asset in which they are investing. Private equity specialization is usually in specific industry sector asset management while hedge fund specialization is in industry sector risk capital management. Private equity strategies can include wholesale purchase of a privately held company or set of assets, mezzanine financing for start-up projects, growth capital investments in existing businesses or leveraged buyout of a publicly held asset converting it to private control.

Private equity fundraising refers to the action of private equity firms seeking capital from investors for their funds. Typically an investor will invest in a specific fund managed by a firm, becoming a limited partner in the fund, rather than an investor in the firm itself.

As a result, an investor will only benefit from investments made by a firm where the investment is made from the specific fund in which it has invested. As fundraising has grown over the past few years, so too has the number of investors in the average fund. In there were 26 investors in the average private equity fund, this figure has now grown to 42 according to Preqin ltd. Often private equity fund managers will employ the services of external fundraising teams known as placement agents in order to raise capital for their vehicles.

The amount of time that a private equity firm spends raising capital varies depending on the level of interest among investors, which is defined by current market conditions and also the track record of previous funds raised by the firm in question. Firms can spend as little as one or two months raising capital when they are able to reach the target that they set for their funds relatively easily, often through gaining commitments from existing investors in their previous funds, or where strong past performance leads to strong levels of investor interest.

Other managers may find fundraising taking considerably longer, with managers of less popular fund types such as US and European venture fund managers in the current climate finding the fundraising process more tough.

It is not unheard of for funds to spend as long as two years on the road seeking capital, although the majority of fund managers will complete fundraising within nine months to fifteen months. Once a fund has reached its fundraising target, it will have a final close. After this point it is not normally possible for new investors to invest in the fund, unless they were to purchase an interest in the fund on the secondary market.

The state of the industry around the end of was as follows. Following on from a strong start, deal activity slowed in the second half of due to concerns over the global economy and sovereign debt crisis in Europe. This was down a quarter on the same period in the previous year. Private-equity backed buyouts generated some 6. This was down on 7. The average time for funds to achieve a final close fell to Public pensions are a major source of capital for private equity funds.

Increasingly, sovereign wealth funds are growing as an investor class for private equity. Due to limited disclosure, studying the returns to private equity is relatively difficult. Unlike mutual funds, private equity funds need not disclose performance data. And, as they invest in private companies, it is difficult to examine the underlying investments. It is challenging to compare private equity performance to public equity performance, in particular because private equity fund investments are drawn and returned over time as investments are made and subsequently realized.

This analysis may actually overstate the returns because it relies on voluntarily reported data and hence suffers from survivorship bias i. One should also note that these returns are not risk-adjusted.

A more recent paper Harris, Jenkinson and Kaplan, [96] found that average buyout fund returns in the U. These findings were supported by earlier work, using a different data set Robinson and Sensoy, Commentators have argued that a standard methodology is needed to present an accurate picture of performance, to make individual private equity funds comparable and so the asset class as a whole can be matched against public markets and other types of investment.

It is also claimed that PE fund managers manipulate data to present themselves as strong performers, which makes it even more essential to standardize the industry. Two other findings in Kaplan and Schoar First, there is considerable variation in performance across PE funds.

Second, unlike the mutual fund industry, there appears to be performance persistence in PE funds. That is, PE funds that perform well over one period, tend to also perform well the next period. Specifically, FOIA has required certain public agencies to disclose private equity performance data directly on their websites. In the United Kingdom, the second largest market for private equity, more data has become available since the publication of the David Walker Guidelines for Disclosure and Transparency in Private Equity.

There is a debate around the distinction between private equity and foreign direct investment FDI , and whether to treat them separately. The difference is blurred on account of private equity not entering the country through the stock market.

Private equity generally flows to unlisted firms and to firms where the percentage of shares is smaller than the promoter- or investor-held shares also known as free-floating shares. The main point of contention is that FDI is used solely for production, whereas in the case of private equity the investor can reclaim their money after a revaluation period and make investments in other financial assets.

At present, most countries report private equity as a part of FDI. Private equity decision-making has been shown to suffer from cognitive biases such as illusion of control and overconfidence. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This article may be too technical for most readers to understand. Please help improve it to make it understandable to non-experts , without removing the technical details. The GPs are the individuals who convince the LPs that the companies they have selected are solid investments. The GPs also oversee the processes of adding value to the target companies and turning a profit for their investors. The support structure of a private equity firm varies from company to company.

These workers do not participate in the profit-sharing aspect of the business, but they provide much-needed research and support services. Investment experts provide data to the GPs on which companies show potential as investments, including cash flow analysis, management capabilities and profit assessments.

The support staff also assist the GPs in finding potential LPs whose interests coincide with items in the GP's portfolios. Unlike public companies, which allow buyers to purchase shares on a stock exchange, access to shares in private equity funds is strictly limited.

Also, private equity funds are often organized as limited partnerships LLPs or limited liability companies LLCs , rather than as corporations. This structure limits the losses of the LPs to the amount of their investment. These funds also have a limited shelf life, while public companies are expected to continue indefinitely. Living in Houston, Gerald Hanks has been a writer since He has contributed to several special-interest national publications.

Before starting his writing career, Gerald was a web programmer and database developer for 12 years. Skip to main content. Independent Private Equity Firms.