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Cyclicality, Performance Measurement, and Cash Flow Liquidity in Private Equity

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  • David T. Robinson
  • Berk A. Sensoy

Abstract

Public and private equity waves move together. Using quarterly cash-flow data for a large sample of venture capital and buyout funds from 1984-2010, we investigate the implications of this co-cyclicality for understanding private equity cash flows and performance. In the cross-section, varying the beta used to assess relative performance has a large effect on inference near a beta of zero, but only a modest effect for more reasonable beta estimates. A similar message comes through in the time series. Though funds raised in hot markets underperform in absolute terms, this underperformance is sharply reduced by a comparison to the S&P 500, and disappears entirely at the levels of beta recently estimated in the literature. These findings imply that high private equity fundraising forecasts both low private equity cash flows and low market returns, suggesting a positive correlation between private equity net cash flows and public equity valuations. Examining cash flows directly, we find that this is indeed the case. While both capital calls and distributions rise with public equity valuations, distributions are more sensitive than calls. Net cash flows are therefore procyclical and private equity funds are liquidity providers (sinks) when market valuations are high (low). Venture cash flows and performance are considerably more procyclical than buyout. Debt market conditions also have a significant impact on private equity cash flows. At the same time, most cash-flow variation is idiosyncratic across funds, and most predictable variation is explained by the age of the fund.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17428 Note: AP CF
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Degeorge, Francois & Martin, Jens & Phalippou, Ludovic, 2016. "On secondary buyouts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 124-145.
    3. Barber, Brad M. & Yasuda, Ayako, 2017. "Interim fund performance and fundraising in private equity," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 172-194.
    4. Rin, Marco Da & Hellmann, Thomas & Puri, Manju, 2013. "A Survey of Venture Capital Research," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, Elsevier.
    5. Arthur Korteweg & Stefan Nagel, 2016. "Risk-Adjusting the Returns to Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 71(3), pages 1437-1470, June.
    6. Robinson, David T. & Sensoy, Berk A., 2016. "Cyclicality, performance measurement, and cash flow liquidity in private equity," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 521-543.
    7. Holloway, Isaac & Lee, Hoan Soo & Shen, Tao, 2016. "Private equity firm heterogeneity and cross-border acquisitions," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 118-141.
    8. Gregory W. Brown & Oleg R. Gredil & Steven N. Kaplan, 2016. "Do Private Equity Funds Manipulate Reported Returns?," NBER Working Papers 22493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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