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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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Bibliographic Info

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. Quigley, John M. & Woodward, Susan E., 2003. "An Index for Venture Capital," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt15g2h7g9, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Kaplan, Steven & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets The Real World: An Empirical Analysis Of Venture Capital Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 2421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. John H. Cochrane, 2001. "The Risk and Return of Venture Capital," NBER Working Papers 8066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gompers, Paul A, 1995. " Optimal Investment, Monitoring, and the Staging of Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1461-89, December.
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  7. Axelson, Ulf & Stromberg, Per & Weisbach, Michael S., 2008. "Why Are Buyouts Levered? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," Working Paper Series 2008-15, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  8. Lerner, Joshua & Schoar, Antoinette, 2003. "The Illiquidity Puzzle: Theory and Evidence from Private Equity," Working papers 4378-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  9. Lerner, Joshua, 1994. "Venture capitalists and the decision to go public," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 293-316, June.
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  13. Palepu, Krishna G., 1990. "Consequences of leveraged buyouts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 247-262, September.
  14. Francesca Cornelli & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Stage Financing and the Role of Convertible Securities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 1-32, January.
  15. Gorman, Michael & Sahlman, William A., 1989. "What do venture capitalists do?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 231-248, July.
  16. Alexander Ljungqvist & Matthew Richardson, 2003. "The cash flow, return and risk characteristics of private equity," NBER Working Papers 9454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Yael V. Hochberg & Alexander Ljungqvist & Yang Lu, 2007. "Whom You Know Matters: Venture Capital Networks and Investment Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(1), pages 251-301, 02.
  18. 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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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Axelson, Ulf & Stromberg, Per & Weisbach, Michael S., 2008. "Why Are Buyouts Levered? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," Working Paper Series 2008-15, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," NBER Working Papers 14341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Shourun Guo & Edie S. Hotchkiss & Weihong Song, 2008. "Do Buyouts (Still) Create Value?," NBER Working Papers 14187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Kaplan, Steven N. & Strömberg, Per, 2009. "Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity," SIFR Research Report Series 65, Institute for Financial Research.
  10. 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.
  11. Bongaerts, D. & Charlier, E., 2008. "Private Equity and Regulatory Capital," Discussion Paper 2008-52, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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