Harvard holds onto PE assets

Mar 09, 2012

Harvard's secondary sale comes up short.

Last fall, there were reports that Harvard University’s endowment planned to sell up to $1.5 billion worth of private equity fund holdings, via the secondary market. According to Bloomberg, the offering was split into two parts: Around $1 billion in U.S. buyout funds, to be agented by UBS; and around $500 million in energy-focused funds, to be agented by Cogent Partners.

I’ve since that the larger piece didn’t move, while Harvard did sell certain portions of the smaller piece.

There were bids for both, but not all of the pricing was to Harvard’s liking (and it wasn’t a distressed seller, so no need to take too steep a discount). Also, it seems that the $1.5 billion figure was a bit of a pipe-dream – offer lots of stuff, and see what people want to cherry-pick.

Speaking about secondary pricing more broadly, one buyside source told me that most of the deals it’s done lately have been at between 70 cents to 83 cents on the dollar. I had kind of assumed that there would be a bit of premium push right now due to public equity’s recent run – despite the private equity reporting lag – but hear that private equity NAVs didn’t actually contract too much during last August and September’s public equity roller-coaster.

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