Why are Buyouts Leveraged? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Firms
This paper presents a model of the financial structure of private equity firms. In the model, the general partner of the firm encounters a sequence of deals over time where the exact quality of each deal cannot be credibly communicated to investors. We show that the optimal financing arrangement is consistent with a number of characteristics of the private equity industry. First, the firm should be financed by a combination of fund capital raised before deals are encountered, and capital that is raised to finance a specific deal. Second, the fund investors' claim on fund cash flow is a combination of debt and levered equity, while the general partner receives a claim similar to the carry contracts received by real-world practitioners. Third, the fund will be set up in a manner similar to that observed in practice, with investments pooled within a fund, decision rights over investments held by the general partner, and limits set in partnership agreements on the size of particular investments. Fourth, the model suggests that incentives will lead to overinvestment in good states of the world and underinvestment in bad states, so that the natural industry cycles will be multiplied. Fifth, investments made in recessions will on average outperform investments made in booms.
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- 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 463-98, October.
- Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Wan Wongsunwai, 2007.
"Smart Institutions, Foolish Choices: The Limited Partner Performance Puzzle,"
Journal of Finance,
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- Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Wan Wong, 2005. "Smart Institutions, Foolish Choices? The Limited Partner Performance Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 11136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Kandel, Eugene & Leshchinskii, Dima & Yuklea, Harry, 2011. "VC Funds: Aging Brings Myopia," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 431-457, April.
- Nachman, David C & Noe, Thomas H, 1994. "Optimal Design of Securities under Asymmetric Information," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(1), pages 1-44.
- Lerner, Josh, 1995. " Venture Capitalists and the Oversight of Private Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 301-18, March.
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