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The Buying and Selling of Private Equity Is Hotter Than Ever

Jan 25, 2016

The secondary market for private equity is at record levels, and only getting bigger.

That's the big takeaway of a survey of more than 70 professionals who are in the business of buying and selling stakes in existing private equity funds conducted by the private capital advisory group of Evercore Partners (evr). From the results:

Mountain climbing: The level of dry powder (i.e., committed capital) for secondary buyers is at a record high of $65 billion, which is up from an already-sizable $56 billion in June 2015. Another $40 billion of secondary fundraising is targeted for 2016. Of the current amount, more than 80% is controlled by the top 20 buyers.

Where in the world? North America remains the most attractive region, followed by Europe and Asia.

Deal types: 39% of respondents said they would focus primarily on LP interests, 17% of directs/GP liquidity opportunities and the remaining 44% expressed no preference. In 2014, around 71% of volume was for buyout-related assets, followed by real estate (14%) and venture capital (6%).

Indebted: In 2015, leverage became more important. A quarter of deal volume was leveraged at the SPV level (compared to 17% in 2014), while LTV levels hit 40% (vs. 30%).

Crystal ball: The majority of respondents expect between $35-$40 billion in secondary volume this year, with around half saying that macro developments will be the driving factor (which is apparently separate from "public market performance"—which was the driving factor for 15% of respondents).

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