Alternative investments will hit record $14 trillion AUM in 2023. What about PE?

Alternative investments will hit record $14 trillion AUM in 2023. What about PE?

Alternative investments will hit record $14 trillion AUM in 2023.

What about PE?

The popularity of the alternative investments space does not come as a novelty in a period in which investors increasingly seek to shy away from the less attractive returns of traditional asset classes. The news is however, that forecasts see the industry hitting a record $14tn AUM mark in 2023, growing by +59% (i.e. c.8% CAGR) from the $8.8tn recorded at the end of 2017. If we think that, merely ten years ago, assets managed by alternative investors stood just north of $3tn, growth has already been outstanding.

Key drivers for growth in alternative investments include investors’ need for yield, the long-term outperformance of private capital compared to public markets, the growing appetite for alternatives from institutional and private investors, and strong growth in emerging markets.

“Fourteen trillion dollars may sound like an overly ambitious prediction for the alternative assets industry, but it is lower than the average growth rate we’ve seen in the past decade, hence extremely likely to happen” comments Preqin’s CEO Mark O’Hare. According to the latter, other trends shaping the alternative’s industry besides the proven long-term performance, are the growing opportunities in private debt and the rise of emerging markets in which alternative funds are already entrenched.

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The asset class claiming the largest share within alternatives is obviously Private Equity, with an expected increase of +58% (i.e. c.12% CAGR) over the next five years from $3.1tn to $4.9tn AUM overtaking hedge funds that instead will grow by +31% (i.e. c.7% CAGR) from $3.6tn to $4.7tn. More interestingly, the rise of private debt will see the market for this asset double in size (e.g. expected at $1.8tn in FY2023) growing organically thanks to allocator interest no longer for traditional bank lending but for private capital. Real assets instead, although representing a smaller portion of the alternative investment universe at this moment (i.e. c.8% according of the total according to Preqin), are expected to be the fastest growing set of assets over the next five years.

Anna Gervasoni (Director General of AIFI – Italian Private Equity, Venture Capital and Private Debt Association and board member of Fondo Italiano d’Investimento) emphasizes this positive trend claiming that: “private capital and private equity will become more convincingly part of institutional investors’ asset allocations in the coming years”.

Performances have their say in this. According to Preqin, buyout funds have recorded performance of 5 ppts greater than those recorded by the S&P500 since 2000 and better than any other institutional asset class. Performance-based metrics remain a key driver in asset allocation towards alternatives says Michael Murphy (Managing Director and Private Equity Global Co-head at Credit Suisse):“I expect to see this trend rise even more leading to a more mature secondary market that will reduce the perception of illiquidity of these assets”.

But where does this growth come from? The most important sources of the incremental flows to alternative investments will be family offices, sovereign wealth funds and pension funds. These funds are starting to believe they can run their own money, rather than outsourcing to large asset management companies because they now “manage more capital, are more sophisticated and have greater expertise in-house than was the case prior to the global financial crisis” comments Michael Stirling, CEO of Stirling Infrastructure.

There are expected to be way more fund managers available for LPs to choose from in 2023, bringing the total number of alternative investment funds to a staggering 34,000! At that point, the ability of picking the right guy (fund) will be crucial, even more than today.

 

Sources:

Il Sole24Ore, https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/finanza-e-mercati/2018-10-31/fondi-alternativi-l-industria-arrivera-14mila-miliardi-dollari-2023-131834_PRV.shtml?uuid=AEj7ojYG

Institutional Investor, https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1bg5lknj62d7l/Report-Alternative-Investment-Industry-Will-Hit-14-Trillion-By-2023

Preqin report “The Future of Alternatives”, https://www.preqin.com/insights/special-reports-and-factsheets/the-future-of-alternatives/23610

Bebeez, https://bebeez.it/files/2018/11/Alternative-Timeline.pdf

 

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The return of megadeals: Blackstone buys Thomson Reuters’ data unit for $17bn

The return of megadeals: Blackstone buys Thomson Reuters’ data unit for $17bn

On 30.01.2018, Blackstone announced to buy a majority stake in the data business of Thomson Reuters, the world’s second largest financial information provider. It’s the private equity group’s biggest purchase since the financial crisis, pitting the firepower and network of Stephen Schwarzman, who oversees $387bn in Blackstone funds, against fellow billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who dominates Wall Street’s financial information industry.

 

When Blackstone announced to buy a majority stake in Thomson Reuters’ data unit, there was a lot of excitement among investors, pushing Thomson Reuters’s share price to new highs at announcement date. The $17.3bn transaction is Blackstone’s largest deal by enterprise value since the firm’s $26bn buyout of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, in 2007. Under the terms of the deal, Blackstone will acquire a 55% majority stake in Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk division, which will then be carved out into a new company, with Thomson Reuters owning the remainder. CPPIB(1) and GIC(2), will co-invest alongside Blackstone. According to the Financial Times, the deal will not include Thomson Reuters’ newsgathering operation or its businesses serving the legal, tax and accounting communities.

 

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The deal volume of $17bn consists of a $3bn equity investment from the Blackstone-led group and $14bn in debt and preferred equity. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase will provide debt financing for the deal, most likely including leveraged loans and high-yield bonds. Canson Capital Partners, Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan were financial advisers to the Blackstone-led consortium, whereas Guggenheim Securities, TD Securities and Centerview Partners advised the sell-side.

The deal will make the Blackstone-led entity the major competitor of the financial information industries’ global market leader, Bloomberg. Blackstone sees attractive growth in the Thomson Reuters unit’s data feed, its foreign exchange and treasury trading platforms, as well as its risk and compliance business, according to industry experts. In addition, the division would also be able to improve operations more quickly than a private company, highly critical in a turn-around.

The market for financial data and information is only weakly fragmented with Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters accounting for c. 56% of total revenues in 2016. In 2017, global spending on information/analysis increased by 3.6% to $28.5bn, for the largest YoY growth since 2011. When looking at the historic development of the market, Thomson Reuters has been the leading player ahead of Bloomberg until 2011 with regards to market share. Since then, Bloomberg has largely evolved as the dominant player in the financial information market and successfully defended its strong position. However, with increasing competition from new players such as Goldman Sachs-backed company Symphony, the market could undertake a major re-organization and threaten Bloomberg’s dominant position, which offers significant growth opportunities for the new company.

The market reacted with a 9.5% increase in Thomson Reuters’ stock price, immediately after the acquisition plans were published, whereas the share price of Blackstone fell by 2% due to increased uncertainty among investors. A carve-out by a private equity firm could lead to a turnaround that Thomson would have struggled to achieve on its own ague analysts in favor of the deal. However, there are also concerns with regard to the feasibility of the turnaround. According to Bloomberg, there is a plateau problem regarding the earnings of the unit. To achieve private equity-style returns, Blackstone will need to boost the unit’s average earnings, which are flat around $1.6bn since 2012, a task that has proved difficult for Thomson Reuters in the past. Finally, the question remains whether a deal of this size is an outlier, or the start of a new wave of megadeals in the private equity industry to deploy record sums of dry powder. “There is undoubtedly a lot of dry powder in the market at the moment,” said Andrew Adams, chief executive officer at Quayle Munro, a U.K.-based M&A advisory firm.

 

Thomson Reuters Corporation is a Canadian media and information firm with revenues of c. $11bn in 2016. As of 2018, they employ around 45,000 people across the four divisions, financial & risk, Reuters news, legal and tax & accounting. In 2018, the financial & risk division accounted for over half of the company’s revenue.

The Blackstone Group L.P. is an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services firm based in New York City. As the largest alternative investment firm in the world. Blackstone specializes in private equity, credit and hedge fund investment strategies. As of December 31, 2017, Blackstone had $434bn in assets under management.

 

Sources:

For Illustration 1: Thompson Reuters Revenue by Segment. Retrieved from: The Wallstreet Journal (2018): https://www.wsj.com/articles/thomson-reuters-chairman-criticized-its-17-billion-deal-with-blackstone-1518692400

Private Equity – The best asset-class of the last 25 years

Private Equity – The best asset-class of the last 25 years

Private Equity – What is it?

Private equity (PE) has gained a great amount of influence in today’s financial marketplace, but only few people actually understand the ins and outs of the industry.

This quick article (less than “360” seconds long!) breaks down the topic, discussing in brief (i) the different types of PE strategies; (ii) the main PE firms out there and (iii) the current momentum of the industry.

First things first. What is a PE firm?

To make an (extremely) long story short, PE Firms are essentially asset-management companies (AMC) advising, managing and investing investor’s money through registered investment vehicles called “funds”, each having a different investment scope. AMCs need to comprise skilled and trustworthy Investment Professionals able to raise capital and attract investors promising in exchange solid and constant returns.

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PE investments range from listed and non-listed companies to physical assets (i.e. real estate), offering returns much less correlated to indexes than the returns available in classic public market investment opportunities. However, the tradeoff is that these investments are illiquid (i.e. 3-7 years to generate attractive returns) and thus require longer investment periods.

PE Firms can invest in a wide mix of private investment strategies, with the mix varying greatly from firm to firm depending on the firm’s size, stated strategy, geographical scope, industry and transaction expertise. There are many different types and sizes of PE firms / Funds specialised in either a specific industry or a specific geography.

 

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7 PE strategies – The key elements

Here are the main PE strategies everyone should be aware of:Venture capital (VC) – startups and young companies / little to no track record of VC investments are made with the goal of generating outsized returns by identifying and investing in the most promising companies and profiting from a successful exit (the most desired being an IPO)

  • Growth capital – mature companies / proven business models / looking for capital to restructure their operations, enter new markets or finance an acquisition. Typically, these are minority investments in more mature companies than for a VC scope
  • Buyouts – mature companies / generating significant and steady cash flows. PE firms make buyout investments when they believe that they can extract value by holding and managing a company for a period of time and exiting the company after significant value has been created. This strategy typically involves debt (i.e. usually above 50% of the total acquisition value) to finance the acquisition, enabling the PE Firm to generate high returns while only risking a small amount of capital
  • Fund of Funds (FoF) – investments are made in PE funds rather than directly in the equity of companies. By investing in a fund of funds, investors are granted diversification and the ability to hedge their risk by investing in various fund strategies
  • Debt/Mezzanine – consists of both debt and equity financing to support a company’s Companies that take on mezzanine financing must have an established product and reputation in the industry, a history of profitability, and a viable expansion plan. A key reason of why a company may prefer mezzanine financing, is that it allows it to receive the capital injection needed for business without having to give up a lot of equity ownership
  • PE Real Estate – investing in ownership of real estate properties. The 3 common strategies are: (i) investments in low-risk / low-return assets with predictable cash flows requiring some form of value added element; (ii) medium-risk / medium-return investments involving the purchasing of properties to improve and sell at a gain; (iii) high-risk / high-return investments in properties requiring massive amounts of enhancements (i.e. investments in development, raw land, and mortgage notes)
  • Special situations & Distressed funds – target companies that need restructuring, turnaround, or are in any other unusual circumstances. Investments typically profit from a change in the company’s valuation as a result of the special situation. (i.e. company spin-off, tender offers, bankruptcy proceedings…). Besides PE Firms, Hedge Funds also implement this type of investment

 

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The main players – American legends vs. European firms

Henry Kravis (KKR), Steve Schwarzman (Blackstone), David Rubenstein (Carlyle) and Leon Black (Apollo). These four men run the world’s largest private-equity firms.

Billionaires all, they are at or well past the age when CEOs of public companies move on, either by choice or force. Apple, founded the same year as KKR (1976), has had seven bosses; Microsoft, founded the year before, has had three. On average, public companies replace their leaders once or twice a decade. In finance executives begin bowing out in their 40s, flush with wealth and drained by stress.

 

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One thing is clear, the fame of the big names in the industry resides in the US!                    But Private Equity is not just an American thing. The “Old Continent” defends itself well. The UK leads the table when it comes to PE, placing 7 Firms in the European Top 10.

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The current momentum – why does everyone want PE?

Last year was a massive year for private-equity fundraising, and there is little indication that the flow of money into the asset-class will wane any time soon. A staggering 48% of European investors plan to put more money into private equity this year, compared with 2% who plan to trim their allocation, according to a survey published in December by Coller Capital.

“As long as the demand from investors is there, we will see firms looking to raise bigger funds,” she said. “Some private-equity managers will try to raise as much as possible; others will try to remain more disciplined. Some managers, such as Vitruvian Partners and Partners Group, more than doubled their fund size last year.” – Britta Lindhorst, MD at HQ Capital

As of December 2017, there were 1,038 new private-equity funds (less in number but way bigger in size) in the market filled with $415bn of fresh capital (+6.5% vs 2016), compared to 1,324 funds seeking $390 billion a year earlier, according to Preqin. In brief, 2017 was another record-year for PE (i.e 7th year of consecutive growth), the tough times post 2009 financial crisis are long gone.

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Reasoning on why PE gained so much attention in the last decades, one thing pops up quite immediately bringing us back to the title of the article: Private Equity is simply the most profitable asset-class of the past 25 years!

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Authors

Massimiliano Marchisio

Nikita Kuzmich

Paul Theilig

Felix Schafer

 

Glossary

AMC = Also called General Partner “GP”, is a financial institution approved and supervised by the local authority, whose task it is to manage the fund.

Fund = a fund is a “bucket” filled with investors’ money and managed by the AMC. The amount of money collected can be used to invest into any type of asset

Investors = Also called Limited Partners “LP”, are banks, insurance companies, pension funds, family offices, corporations, governments, HNWI…

 

Suggested readings

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco – Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (1989)

 

Sources

  • The Economist
  • Cambridge Associates Private Equity Benchmark
  • Street of Walls
  • Private Equity News
  • Private Equity International
  • Financial Times
  • Preqin – Research Center
  • Macabacus – Finance