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The Investment Behavior of Buyout Funds: Theory and Evidence

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  • Alexander Ljungqvist
  • Matthew Richardson
  • Daniel Wolfenzon

Abstract

This paper analyzes the determinants of buyout funds' investment decisions. In a model in which the supply of capital is "sticky" in the short run, we link the timing of funds' investment decisions, their risk-taking behavior, and the returns they subsequently earn on their buyouts to changes in the demand for private equity, conditions in the credit market, and funds' ability to influence their perceived talent in the market. Using a proprietary dataset of 207 buyout funds that invested in 2,274 buyout targets over the last two decades, we then investigate the implications of the model. Our dataset contains precisely dated cash inflows and outflows in every portfolio company, links every buyout target to an identifiable buyout fund, and is free from reporting and survivor biases. Thus, we are able to characterize every buyout fund's precise investment choices. Our empirical findings are consistent with the model. First, established funds accelerate their investment flows and earn higher returns when investment opportunities improve, competition for deal flow eases, and credit market conditions loosen. Second, the investment behavior of first-time funds is less sensitive to market conditions. Third, younger funds invest in riskier buyouts, in an effort to establish a track record. Fourth, following periods of good performance, funds become more conservative, and this effect is stronger for younger funds.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Ljungqvist & Matthew Richardson & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2008. "The Investment Behavior of Buyout Funds: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14180
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven N. Kaplan & Jeremy C. Stein, 1991. "The Evolution of Buyout Pricing and Financial Structure," NBER Working Papers 3695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Ulf Axelson & Per Strömberg & Michael S. Weisbach, 2009. "Why Are Buyouts Levered? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1549-1582, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bongaerts, Dion & Charlier, Erwin, 2009. "Private equity and regulatory capital," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1211-1220, July.
    2. Buchner, Axel, 2016. "How much can lack of marketability affect private equity fund values?," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 35-45.
    3. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrich Hege & Liang Peng, 2008. "Venture Capital and Sequential Investments," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1682R2, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Oct 2009.
    4. Ulf Axelson & Per Strömberg & Michael S. Weisbach, 2009. "Why Are Buyouts Levered? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1549-1582, August.
    5. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Phalippou, Ludovic & Gottschalg, Olivier, 2010. "Giants at the Gate: On the Cross-section of Private Equity Investment Returns," MPRA Paper 28487, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. David T. Robinson & Berk A. Sensoy, 2013. "Do Private Equity Fund Managers Earn Their Fees? Compensation, Ownership, and Cash Flow Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(11), pages 2760-2797.
    7. Blind, Georg & Stefania, Lottanti von Mandach, 2017. "Modeling the „Visitors to Rome“ effect: Reputation Building in Anglo-Saxon Buyout Funds in Japan," MPRA Paper 77761, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Jonathan Wiley, 2014. "Illiquidity Risk in Non-Listed Funds: Evidence from REIT Fund Exits and Redemption Suspensions," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 205-236, August.
    9. Robinson, David T. & Sensoy, Berk A., 2010. "Private Equity in the 21st Century: Cash Flows, Performance, and Contract Terms from 1984-2010," Working Paper Series 2010-21, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
    10. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrich Hege & Liang Peng, 2008. "Venture Capital and Sequential Investments," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1682R2, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Oct 2009.
    11. Arcot, Sridhar & Fluck, Zsuzsanna & Gaspar, José-Miguel & Hege, Ulrich, 2015. "Fund managers under pressure: Rationale and determinants of secondary buyouts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 102-135.
    12. 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.
    13. repec:eee:jfinec:v:124:y:2017:i:3:p:535-562 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Malenko, Andrey & Malenko, Nadya, 2015. "A theory of LBO activity based on repeated debt-equity conflicts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 607-627.
    15. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 207-222, Summer.
    16. repec:eee:jbfina:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:14-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Stromberg, 2009. "Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 121-146, Winter.
    18. Giot, Pierre & Hege, Ulrich & Schwienbacher, Armin, 2014. "Are novice private equity funds risk-takers? Evidence from a comparison with established funds," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 55-71.
    19. Shourun Guo & Edie S. Hotchkiss & Weihong Song, 2008. "Do Buyouts (Still) Create Value?," NBER Working Papers 14187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Valkama, Petri & Maula, Markku & Nikoskelainen, Erkki & Wright, Mike, 2013. "Drivers of holding period firm-level returns in private equity-backed buyouts," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2378-2391.

    More about this item

    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

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