PIPEs, or private investment in public equities are beginning to come to the forefront of private equity investment strategy. With the access to debt shut off and the amount of capital under management (or "dry powder") growing ever more restless, private equity fund managers are simply becoming more creative in their pursuit of returns. Rather than pursuing the leverage buyout model, its fall from grace having been extensively documented, private equity funds are pursuing new models. When the the sexy investment banks were de-robeing last summer for all of us to see what lay underneath their sophisticated Gucci credit default swaps and Prada securitized loan obligations we found a dumpy-looking pair of underpants from Writedowns Inc. The writedowns from Merril Lych, Citigroup, and the family on Wall Street offered a tremendous amount of discounted debt in the market. Private equity funds bought this up.
Since then the public markets have lost half their value, also, public listings have come to a standstill. In Q3 of 2008, there were zero IPOs in the Toronto Stock Exchange. Apparently, there is no appetite for private companies to see half of their value lost in a matter of weeks upon listing. However, public companies looking to raise some funds are still able to do so, but from private equity funds.
Private investments in public equity (PIPEs) have picked up beginning at the end of last year according to this article in the Globe and Mail. This is not news to those operating in the private equity space as this is becoming an increasingly active market to operate in, but it is a testament to the adaptable nature of private equity flexing its intelectual capital to generate returns from their "dry powder" when others spout on about the doom that lay ahead.