This article originally appeared on BusinessDay.
Private equity (PE) firms that set out to raise new funds in 2015 encountered some of the best conditions they had seen in years.
For a fifth consecutive year, cash distributions from exits ran well ahead of calls on previous commitments for limited partners (LPs), meaning abundant fresh capital enabled most general partners (GPs) to hit or exceed their fundraising targets.
As we discuss in Bain & Company’s Global Private Equity Report 2016, successive years of strong cash distributions supported LPs’ capacity to plow capital back into PE across every region of the world in 2015. GPs offering funds of all types and across all regions shared broadly in fund-raising success. Funds are closing faster, and the share of those that hit or exceeded their goal was higher in 2015 than at any time since the pre-crisis boom of 2007.
Top-performing GPs reap a whirlwind of new financing. With LPs flocking to them in droves, high-flying GPs whose predecessor funds performed in the top quartile have been beating their fundraising targets by a wider margin and in less time over the past six years. Indeed, LPs’ appetites for big, top-performing funds vastly exceed the supply of PE funds available to absorb all the capital LPs need to deploy.
The net cash flowing to LPs since 2010 has exceeded $300bn—equal to more than one-and-a-half years’ worth of fundraising.
The spillover effect floats all GPs’ fundraising boats. The effect of much capital looking to be put to work is distorting the overall fundraising environment, and its benefits are flowing well beyond the big, favoured GPs.
Hugh MacArthur and Graham Elton are leaders of Bain & Company’s Private Equity Group. Andrei Vorobyov is a Bain & Company partner based in Johannesburg, where he leads Africa’s Private Equity and M&A Practices.