Business Day

Private Equity Funds Will Need the Reflexes They Have Honed

Private Equity Funds Will Need the Reflexes They Have Honed

The reflexes private equity firms sharpened in recent years will get a workout as the pace of exits slows in the period ahead.

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Private Equity Funds Will Need the Reflexes They Have Honed

This article originally appeared on BusinessDay.

The stars aligned in 2015, making it another strong year on the private equity (PE) exit front.

Asset valuations were near record highs, and private equity funds wanting to liquidate portfolio holdings found buyers eager to oblige.

With $422bn in realisations and 1,166 deals reported at year-end, asset sales were just shy of their record peak. But, as we explain in Bain & Company’s Global Private Equity Report 2016, the recent slower pace of private equity fund investments portends a falloff in exits over the coming five years.

As the slower pace of investments feeds through to fewer exits and smaller cash distributions flowing back to limited partners (LPs) in the period ahead, the private equity industry should settle into a more sedate new normal next year and beyond.

Let’s review what made the period since the global financial crisis such a uniquely vibrant period for exit activity and the lessons learnt that will serve private equity firms well in any exit environment.

Many general partners (GPs) took advantage of favourable exit conditions to complete the years-long process of selling off their large inventories of unrealised assets acquired before the global financial crisis. Purchased at peak prices before 2008 and sharply devalued following the market meltdown, these holdings sat in their fund portfolios as general partners patiently rehabilitated them and waited out the recovery.

Read the full article in BusinessDay >

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.


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