Use it or lose it. That is the choice faced by some buyout firms sitting on piles of capital they have raised but not invested. The firms are unlikely to give it up without a fight. That was the message I heard while visiting Boston last week and speaking with a large number of private equity firms. They definitely are stressing about finding good companies as the American market is over-served and seen to be saturated. The funds had been counting on Europe but now that is a big muddle. Australia is too far and the time distance burns out the teams. So that leaves Canada.
The Wall Street journal's JOHN JANNARONE explains the increased pressure in private equity investing which is good news for Canadian business owners.
A fund-raising arms race last decade was followed by a sharp slowdown in investments, leading levels of dry powder to surge. Such undeployed capital stood at a record $280 billion among U.S.-focused buyout firms at the end of 2009, according to research firm Preqin.
The catch is that firms generally agree to invest capital within five years or return it to investors. For some, the deadline is fast approaching. U.S.-focused buyout funds have $51 billion that must be used before the end of 2011, Preqin says. Another $213 billion needs to be invested by 2015.
Raising new money isn't that easy anymore. So, the worry is that firms will lower the bar on the quality of investments to ensure existing funds are put to work. One risk is that firms begin to chase after deals and overpay.