The past couple of weeks have been full of encouraging news for private equity fundraising.
According to recently released industry statistics, some 130 private equity funds held final closes worth slightly more than $69 billion between January and March, with buyout fundraising – the lion’s share of volume – nearly doubling.
Silver Lake Partners closed on $10.3 billion, a record for a technology-focused private equity fund; KPS Special Situations Fund IV raised $3.5 billion in under four months and StepStone Group blew past its $350 million target for its latest secondaries vehicle, adding $100 million to the final close.
There are many reasons to believe that 2013 will be the best year for global fundraising since before the great recession began in 2009.
This year the private equity industry should burn through the bulk of the remaining dry powder bulge from the 2005-2008 credit bubble, when close to 50 percent of all the capital ever raised for private equity was committed. One sign that this is happening: the value of private equity deals announced in the first quarter of 2013 rose 16 percent to $114 billion, as leveraged buyouts more than doubled to $55 billion in a market that has seen a steady increase in deal size.
As dry powder is either used or expires, investment committees are increasing capital allocations available for new private equity commitments. On average, large U.S. public pension funds increased their allocation to private equity to 9.7 percent this year, up from 8.3 percent in 2012.
Yet while fundraising is on the rise, capital is going to fewer general partners. In 2012, 466 private equity vehicles held final closes on an average fund size of $579 million. In 2011, 15 percent less money was raised, yet more vehicles reached a final close: with 513 closing on an average of $448 million. One reason for this: limited partners, facing growing difficulties keeping tabs on a private equity universe diversifying rapidly by geography, specialization and vehicle structure, are investing with fewer managers. Stretched LPs prize efficiency and have less time to devote to learning about smaller funds, or about those where due diligence is impeded, or where the proprietary edge of the GP is clouded, by less-than limpid communications.
In short general partners and limited partners are in danger of getting lost in a growing and changing private equity space.
Limited partners need insights into market conditions, non-traditional opportunities, co-investments and more, while general partners must devote greater ingenuity to both investor relations and making sure their strategies stand out from the crowd.
Clear, efficient and imaginative communications between general partners and limited partners are all the more critical if one considers that a record 2,000 private equity funds are jostling for attention today in private equity’s fundraising arena.