The fiscal cliff and private equity

Nov 28, 2012

FORTUNE -- I was on CNBC Squawk Box this morning to discuss what the fiscal cliff means for private equity.  Drum roll... It doesn't mean all that much.

No examples of private equity firms hoarding money or instructing portfolio companies to do so. Moreover, private equity’s long-term nature means that it could better survive a fall off the cliff than could most other asset classes (although, of course, a shock recession would harm IRRs – and take a particular bite out of fundraising efforts).

Instead, the real issue for private equity surrounds taxes. It’s hard to see how carried interest, for example, wouldn’t get sucked into a package of loophole eliminations. That means PE pro taxes would rise, although most PE pros have been expecting that for a while (and mentally accepted it, even if they disagree with the policy). The other tax issue is an expected increase in capital gains rates, which seems almost certain whether or not there is a deal worked out by January 1. That’s why we’re beginning to see a flurry of deals and deal closures (particularly on the PE sell-side).

I also got asked for the year's big PE winners and losers. Hadn't expected the question, but my gut reaction was that Advent International was a big winner. Raised the largest post-crisis fund, and did so extremely quickly (without having to make major fee concessions to CalPERS, etc.). Didn't get to a loser, but it has to be Bain Capital. Not the firm's fault, but clearly the Romney candidacy wasn't good for Bain's public reputation.

Video below:

[cnnmoney-cnbc vid=http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000131834]

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions