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Smart Institutions, Foolish Choices: The Limited Partner Performance Puzzle

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  • JOSH LERNER
  • ANTOINETTE SCHOAR
  • WAN WONGSUNWAI

Abstract

The returns that institutional investors realize from private equity differ dramatically across institutions. Using detailed, hitherto unexplored records, we document large heterogeneity in the performance of investor classes: endowments' annual returns are nearly 21% greater than average. Analysis of reinvestment decisions suggests that endowments (and to a lesser extent, public pensions) are better than other investors at predicting whether follow-on funds will have high returns. The results are not primarily due to endowments' greater access to established funds, since they also hold for young or undersubscribed funds. Our results suggest that investors vary in their sophistication and potentially their investment objectives. Copyright 2007 by The American Finance Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Wan Wongsunwai, 2007. "Smart Institutions, Foolish Choices: The Limited Partner Performance Puzzle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(2), pages 731-764, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:62:y:2007:i:2:p:731-764
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul A. Gompers & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "Institutional Investors and Equity Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 229-259.
    2. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 2000. "Money chasing deals? The impact of fund inflows on private equity valuation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 281-325, February.
    3. Mayer, Colin & Schoors, Koen & Yafeh, Yishay, 2002. "Sources of Funds and Investment Activities of Venture Capital Funds: Evidence from Germany, Israel, Japan and the UK," CEPR Discussion Papers 3340, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    6. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 1996. "The Use of Covenants: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Partnership Agreements," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 463-498, October.
    7. Lerner, Josh & Schoar, Antoinette, 2004. "The illiquidity puzzle: theory and evidence from private equity," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 3-40, April.
    8. Thomas Hellmann & Laura Lindsey & Manju Puri, 2008. "Building Relationships Early: Banks in Venture Capital," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 513-541, April.
    9. Grinblatt, Mark & Titman, Sheridan & Wermers, Russ, 1995. "Momentum Investment Strategies, Portfolio Performance, and Herding: A Study of Mutual Fund Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1088-1105, December.
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    11. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 1999. "An analysis of compensation in the U.S. venture capital partnership," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 3-44, January.
    12. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. " The Limits of Arbitrage," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 35-55, March.
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    14. Josef Lakonishok & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1992. "The Structure and Performance of the Money Management Industry," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1992 Micr), pages 339-391.
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    18. repec:hrv:faseco:30747193 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services

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