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Valuing Private Equity Strip by Strip


  • Gupta, Arpit
  • van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn


We propose a new valuation method for private equity investments. First, we construct a cash-flow replicating portfolio for the private investment, applying Machine Learning techniques on cash-flows on various listed equity and fixed income instruments. The second step values the replicating portfolio using a flexible asset pricing model that accurately prices the systematic risk in bonds of different maturities and a broad cross-section of equity factors. The method delivers a measure of the risk-adjusted profit earned on a PE investment and a time series for the expected return on PE fund categories. We apply the method to buyout, venture capital, real estate, and infrastructure funds, among others. Accounting for horizon-dependent risk and exposure to a broad cross-section of equity factors results in negative average risk-adjusted profits. Substantial cross-sectional variation and persistence in performance suggests some funds outperform. We also find declining expected returns on PE funds in the later part of the sample.

Suggested Citation

  • Gupta, Arpit & van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn, 2019. "Valuing Private Equity Strip by Strip," CEPR Discussion Papers 14241, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14241

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Valentin Haddad & Erik Loualiche & Matthew Plosser, 2017. "Buyout Activity: The Impact of Aggregate Discount Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 72(1), pages 371-414, February.
    3. Kozak, Serhiy & Nagel, Stefan & Santosh, Shrihari, 2020. "Shrinking the cross-section," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(2), pages 271-292.
    4. 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.
    5. Da Rin, Marco & Phalippou, Ludovic, 2017. "The importance of size in private equity: Evidence from a survey of limited partners," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 64-76.
    6. Robert S. Harris & Tim Jenkinson & Steven N. Kaplan, 2014. "Private Equity Performance: What Do We Know?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 69(5), pages 1851-1882, October.
    7. Arthur Korteweg & Morten Sorensen, 2010. "Risk and Return Characteristics of Venture Capital-Backed Entrepreneurial Companies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(10), pages 3738-3772, October.
    8. Ang, Andrew & Piazzesi, Monika, 2003. "A no-arbitrage vector autoregression of term structure dynamics with macroeconomic and latent variables," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 745-787, May.
    9. Michael Ewens & Charles M. Jones & Matthew Rhodes-Kropf, 2013. "The Price of Diversifiable Risk in Venture Capital and Private Equity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(8), pages 1854-1889.
    10. Ben Ammar, Semir & Eling, Martin, 2015. "Common risk factors of infrastructure investments," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 257-273.
    11. Driessen, Joost & Lin, Tse-Chun & Phalippou, Ludovic, 2012. "A New Method to Estimate Risk and Return of Nontraded Assets from Cash Flows: The Case of Private Equity Funds," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 511-535, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhengyang Jiang & Hanno Lustig & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Mindy Z. Xiaolan, 2019. "The U.S. Public Debt Valuation Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 26583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Zhengyang Jiang & Hanno Lustig & Mindy Xiaolan & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2019. "Government Risk Premium Puzzle," 2019 Meeting Papers 437, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    More about this item


    affine asset pricing models; Buyout; cross-section of returns; infrastructure; Natural resources; private equity; real estate; temporal pricing of risk; Valuation; venture capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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