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Decreasing Returns or Mean-Reversion of Luck? The Case of Private Equity Fund Growth


  • Rossi, Andrea

    (Ohio State University)


In private equity fund data, there exists a strong negative association between fund growth and performance at the partnership level. As a consequence, there is a consensus that decreasing returns are particularly large. I argue that this inference is unwarranted. In essence, Bayesian-informed expectations reveal that the partnerships whose funds grew the most were on average lucky in the past; as that luck reverts to zero, a spurious negative association between growth and returns is generated in the data. Controlling for this bias, the effect of growth on performance is about 80% smaller and statistically insignificant for both buyout and venture capital funds. Furthermore, I show that, historically, decreasing returns do not seem to have played a major role in the erosion of performance persistence in private equity. These results have implications for fund managers’ and investors’ decisions, and for our understanding of the private equity industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Rossi, Andrea, 2017. "Decreasing Returns or Mean-Reversion of Luck? The Case of Private Equity Fund Growth," Working Paper Series 2017-26, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2017-26

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    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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