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The Investment Behavior of Buyout Funds: Theory and Evidence

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  • Alexander Ljungqvist
  • Matthew Richardson
  • Daniel Wolfenzon

Abstract

This paper analyzes the determinants of buyout funds' investment decisions. In a model in which the supply of capital is "sticky" in the short run, we link the timing of funds' investment decisions, their risk-taking behavior, and the returns they subsequently earn on their buyouts to changes in the demand for private equity, conditions in the credit market, and funds' ability to influence their perceived talent in the market. Using a proprietary dataset of 207 buyout funds that invested in 2,274 buyout targets over the last two decades, we then investigate the implications of the model. Our dataset contains precisely dated cash inflows and outflows in every portfolio company, links every buyout target to an identifiable buyout fund, and is free from reporting and survivor biases. Thus, we are able to characterize every buyout fund's precise investment choices. Our empirical findings are consistent with the model. First, established funds accelerate their investment flows and earn higher returns when investment opportunities improve, competition for deal flow eases, and credit market conditions loosen. Second, the investment behavior of first-time funds is less sensitive to market conditions. Third, younger funds invest in riskier buyouts, in an effort to establish a track record. Fourth, following periods of good performance, funds become more conservative, and this effect is stronger for younger funds.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14180.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14180

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  1. Sahlman, William A., 1990. "The structure and governance of venture-capital organizations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 473-521, October.
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  17. Ulf Axelson & Per Stromberg & Michael S. Weisbach, 2007. "Why are Buyouts Levered: The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," NBER Working Papers 12826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kaplan, Steven N. & Strömberg, Per, 2009. "Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity," SIFR Research Report Series 65, Institute for Financial Research.
  2. Bongaerts, Dion & Charlier, Erwin, 2009. "Private equity and regulatory capital," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1211-1220, July.
  3. Jonathan Wiley, 2014. "Illiquidity Risk in Non-Listed Funds: Evidence from REIT Fund Exits and Redemption Suspensions," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 205-236, August.
  4. Ulf Axelson & Per Strömberg & Michael S. Weisbach, 2009. "Why Are Buyouts Levered? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1549-1582, 08.
  5. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 207-22, Summer.
  6. Robinson, David T. & Sensoy, Berk A., 2010. "Private Equity in the 21st Century: Cash Flows, Performance, and Contract Terms from 1984-2010," Working Paper Series 2010-21, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  7. Valkama, Petri & Maula, Markku & Nikoskelainen, Erkki & Wright, Mike, 2013. "Drivers of holding period firm-level returns in private equity-backed buyouts," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2378-2391.
  8. Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Ludovic Phalippou & Oliver Gottschalg, 2011. "Giants at the Gate: On the Cross-Section of Private Equity Investment Returns," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-035/2/DSF12, Tinbergen Institute.
  9. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrich Hege & Liang Peng, 2008. "Venture Capital and Sequential Investments," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1682, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Nov 2008.
  10. David T. Robinson & Berk A. Sensoy, 2013. "Do Private Equity Fund Managers Earn Their Fees? Compensation, Ownership, and Cash Flow Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(11), pages 2760-2797.
  11. Shourun Guo & Edie S. Hotchkiss & Weihong Song, 2008. "Do Buyouts (Still) Create Value?," NBER Working Papers 14187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David T. Robinson & Berk A. Sensoy, 2011. "Cyclicality, Performance Measurement, and Cash Flow Liquidity in Private Equity," NBER Working Papers 17428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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