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Giants at the Gate: Investment Returns and Diseconomies of Scale in Private Equity

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  • Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio
  • Phalippou, Ludovic
  • Gottschalg, Oliver

Abstract

We document the wide dispersion of private equity investment returns and examine performance determinants using a newly constructed database of 7,500 investments worldwide. One in 10 investments does not return any money, whereas 1 in 4 has an internal rate of return (IRR) above 50%. Quick flips are associated with the highest returns. Performance does not appear scalable: Investments held by private equity firms in periods with a high number of simultaneous investments underperform substantially. Results are consistent with the theoretical literature on organizational diseconomies linked to firm structure. Private equity firms’ actions do not appear to be mechanical or easily scalable.

Suggested Citation

  • Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Phalippou, Ludovic & Gottschalg, Oliver, 2015. "Giants at the Gate: Investment Returns and Diseconomies of Scale in Private Equity," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 377-411, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jfinqa:v:50:y:2015:i:03:p:377-411_00
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    Cited by:

    1. George A Shinkle & Jo-Ann Suchard, 2019. "Innovation in newly public firms: The influence of government grants, venture capital, and private equity," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 44(2), pages 248-281, May.
    2. Korteweg, Arthur & Sorensen, Morten, 2017. "Skill and luck in private equity performance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(3), pages 535-562.
    3. Antonio Gledson De Carvalho & Humberto Gallucci-Netto & Eduardo M. R. Siqueira, 2017. "Determinants of success in venture capital investments: evidence from Brazil," Venture Capital, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 147-161, July.
    4. Waheed CHICKTAY & Brian BARNARD, 2019. "Venture Capital Process: Opportunity Selection, Monitoring, Capital Rationing, and Deal Flow," Expert Journal of Finance, Sprint Investify, vol. 7(1), pages 22-38.
    5. Kieran Farrelly & Simon Stevenson, 2016. "Performance drivers of private real estate funds," Journal of Property Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 214-235, July.
    6. Michael J. O'Neill & Geoffrey J. Warren, 2019. "Evaluating fund capacity: issues and methods," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 59(S1), pages 773-800, April.
    7. Phalippou, Ludovic & Rauch, Christian & Umber, Marc, 2018. "Private equity portfolio company fees," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(3), pages 559-585.
    8. Dyaran Bansraj & Han Smit & Vadym Volosovych, 2020. "Can Private Equity Funds Act as Strategic Buyers? Evidence from Buy-and-Build Strategies," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-041/IV, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Sannajust, Aurélie & Groh, Alexander Peter, 2020. "There's no need to be a pioneer in emerging private equity markets," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    10. Crain, Nicholas G., 2018. "Venture capital and career concerns," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 168-185.
    11. Florian Fuchs & Roland Füss & Tim Jenkisnon & Stefan Morkoetter, 2018. "Should Investors Care Where Private Equity Managers Went To School?," Working Papers on Finance 1806, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    12. Francesco Castellaneta & Maurizio Zollo, 2015. "The Dimensions of Experiential Learning in the Management of Activity Load," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(1), pages 140-157, February.
    13. Stanfield, Jared, 2020. "Skill, syndication, and performance: Evidence from leveraged buyouts," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    14. Niklas Hüther & David T. Robinson & Sönke Sievers & Thomas Hartmann-Wendels, 2020. "Paying for Performance in Private Equity: Evidence from Venture Capital Partnerships," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(4), pages 1756-1782, April.
    15. Braun, Reiner & Jenkinson, Tim & Schemmerl, Christoph, 2020. "Adverse selection and the performance of private equity co-investments," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 44-62.

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