I chatted to a fund manager about the fact that 90% of Businesses in the USA are Still "All in the Family" or family owned. In Canada the figure is given as 75% to 80%. This is still very high. When I made a call to a my friend, Mr. Fund Manager, he had his worthwhile version of why this is the case:
Me: So why are 90% of all business in America held by families and are private?
Mr. Fund Manager: Because the returns are generally too low to cover a true imputed cost of capital (currently some 9% - 3.5% risk free rate plus 5.5% equity risk premium - for an ungeared company) - markets would not stomach such underperformance....
Me: I think it's more about not wanting anyone else to hold the steering wheel - power and control. Still...I am stunned by this figure.
Mr. Fund Manager : Perhaps that too. But I am always amazed at how most private companies ignore the true cost of capital (because then can get away with it!) and as such produce little positive EVA...
Me: Yes - VERY true. I hate to be sweeping with generalizations but what you say is valid. Private business owners generally do not look at cost of capital or EVA. Only one CEO has even mentioned that on a first meeting when we discuss how to access capital.
Mr. Fund Manager: Interesting point. So what’s new at your end?
Me: We are getting a flood of new private equity funds hitting the market and calling us for companies.
Mr. Fund Manager: So much for the slow down. Are you free for lunch next week?