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Posts Tagged ‘Investor Relations’

LPs: More GPs than ever will struggle to raise a fund over the next TWO years

June 14, 2010 1 comment

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LPs predict fundraising will be very tough for 24 months

LPs don't expect fundraising to get easier anytime soon

Two years of winter:/
That’s what awaits those who did/
Not bury their nuts

We all know that times are tough for GPs out fundraising at the moment. But ask anyone on the sell-side and they’ll tell you the same thing:

2009 was horrible, but we expect things to pick up by the end of the year

A quick poll conducted by IE Consulting last month, however, suggests that times will remain tough for those PE houses out scavenging for LP commitments. Of course, the very best funds will come out and raise money. By the way, “very best funds” does not mean “top quartile” (anyone ever marketed a fund that wasn’t top quartile?). “Very best funds” means just that: those private equity and venture capital funds that have consistently delivered performance that outpaces its peers and other funds in other asset classes.

It’s simply no longer enough to be delivering better returns than other European buyout funds or other US venture funds. Limited Partners are taking a hard look at the dollars they are investing in private equity and VC funds and how the returns stack up against their other investment strategies: Commentators should not be surprised to see even committed investors into the asset class “taking stock” for a good while longer than even the most pessimistic might have expected.

So what does this mean for those in the market now, trying to raise a fund?

  • Get out early. You could be in the market for 18 months or more
  • Be flexible. Respect the fact that the balance of power now rests with your LPs: They have alternatives.
  • Show how you are different. A longer fundraising timetable means more “competing” funds on the road at the same time. Why should LPs invest in your fund?
  • Don’t forget to make the case for private equity: Is your strategy preferable to investing in the public market? How?

I remember a conversation I had in 2008 with the head of investor relations at one of the preeminent large buyout houses. After exchanging niceties and discussing the industry landscape, talk turned to their current fundraising activity. Apparently, the firm was engaged in “philosophical” discussions as to whether it should even include a market commentary section in its PPM. After all:

“everyone knows what we do and why they should be investing in our funds”

Oh, how things have changed…

You can read the full research summary from our LP poll here:

LPs in a new era: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

More than a big deal? What GPs think worth communicating

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

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Chart showing how dealflow affects the marketing output at European buyout and growth capital firms

Relationship between dealflow and marketing output

I recently wrote a short piece on GP communications and transparency that looked at quite how open private equity fund managers in Europe really are. Not as open as they could be? Definitely. Not as open as they should be? Without doubt. Well, European GPs are communicating with the market, even if some don’t welcome inbound enquiries in quite the way they might. But what are they communicating?

Well, the IE Consulting team and I read through almost 700 press releases from European buyout and growth capital investors (2006-2010) so you don’t have to. And the results of our research are summarised in an article in this month’s Private Equity Europe:

More Than a Big Deal?

I think GPs are so focussed on announcing their transactions that they are neglecting the opportunities they have to communicate everything else they – and their portfolio companies – do. But what do you think? Please let me know, below!

Life as a Limited Partner during the financial crisis – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

May 18, 2010 3 comments

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LPs demand better communication

GPs with poor communication are losing out

Earlier this month I had the honour and pleasure to be invited onto a panel at the 6th Annual Private Equity Forum at my alma mater. The panel sought to address how LPs had been affected by the financial crisis and, not being a Limited Partner myself, I thought it prudent to ask some, beforehand. If you were one of the 60 institutional investors into private equity that responded to my questionnaire, many thanks!

In any case, and as my colleagues predicted, there was no real need to call upon the research findings during the event. But some of the findings were so intriguing that I wanted to share them with you. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

The link below will take you to a summary of the results.

Limited Partners in a New Era – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

People prefer performance, and that will never change, but we found that many LPs had already ditched managers that they felt had not been communicating with them sufficiently well and some found that misalignment of interests between LP and GP (shock! horror! such DO exist!) had become more apparent during the crisis.

There’s much, much more in the full report, so I hope you will take the time to dive in. If you have any questions or comments, you know where to find me!

Open, for business… Private equity firms and transparency

April 21, 2010 3 comments

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As promised, I’ve uploaded a pdf of the first article on IE Consulting’s new research into the way that GPs are communicating and how open they are to inbound communication. You can access it below:

This first installment looks at some of the absolute basics of open communication: How easy is it for an interested party (press, Limited Partner, intermediary, etc) to find contact details for individuals within the firm.
Sorry I couldn’t get it to embed properly!
“Open, for business?” full article on docstoc.com
The next piece in Private Equity Europe will lok at the thematic content of prtess releases from buyout investors in Europe since January 2006. And there will be more in the coming weeks, so watch this space…

How transparent are private equity fund managers really? What do you think?

April 20, 2010 5 comments

[tweetmeme source=”mattcg” service=”bit.ly” only_single=”false”]Private equity fund managers have been under pressure in recent years to improve both the reporting they undertake to their institutional investors and the transparency with which they operate, in general. Government, regulators, the press, Limited Partners: they all want to know more about the activites of GPs. My colleagues and I at IE Consulting have spent some time looking at the press releases of the most active General Partners in Europe.

We looked at:

  • The access provided to dealmakers and communications staff through their websites
  • The thematic content of all press releases issued since January 2006
  • The quantitative and qualitative content of all press releases pertaining to buyout investments issued in the last 12 months
  • Some of the results were surprising, some disappointing, some encouraging, and some downright astonishing.

    The results will be published in Private Equity Europe and the first installment is out at the end of this week.

    Of course, I’ll be uploading the information here, too!

    In the meantime, I’m interested in your thoughts:

    Should private equity firms be more transparent?
    If so, are they trying hard enough?
    And how successful are they being?

    Perhaps you work at a GP in a marketing or communications or PR role or you are a journalist, regulator or LP. Either way, I am sure you have some interesting thoughts on this. Let me know in the comments!

Waste not, want not

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment
Biifa waste bins Electricinca, Flickr

How solid is it /
Selling gas to get liquid? /
Don’t get in a state!

Biffa is supposedly trying to transform into a company that turns waste into energy, so why sell a division that does just that? Maybe LPs need distributions…not that distributing money to LPs is necessarily a bad thing, of course!

The story at AltAssets

Of course, landfill gas collection is only a viable business as long as there are landfills producing gas. Given that landfills are increasingly unpopular with government and the general public and that collection of gas is only really viable for 20 years or so from each site, this is a pretty smart way to return some cash to invetors with out too adversely affecting the resale price of the business.

Frontier Capital – Learnin’s from the ol’ West

June 29, 2009 4 comments
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and Congress of ...
Image via Wikipedia

Traditionally, the Venture Capital industry has taken its lead from the West. Sure there are fine firms up and down the US and beyond, but think of venture capital and it’s hard not to imagine Google’s garage or a sarcastic VC cutting through some poor entrepreneur’s far-fetched American dream (or, if it’s 1999, funding it).

Now that probes into the services that 3rd party marketing firms and placement agents offer are causing some concern, VCs need to wise-up on the marketing of their own funds. And it’s not going to be easy.

I’ve written before on certain similarities between the actions of some in the fundraising industry and of those in the Wild West. I wasn’t too complimentary, but I wonder what we can learn from the Ol’ West? Here are some quick pointers:

Firstly, if you can, it’s important to show some kind of track history. After all…

It’s better to be a has-been than a never-was.

But track history isn’t everything, of course; it might have been easy raising your last fund in ’06: You delivered 30%+ IRR and most of the LPs were reckoning on funding their commitments with distribution in any case. But, in 2009, if you can’t show how your teams delivered those returns, you’re sure gonna hear this an awful lot:

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance

And honesty really is the best policy; let’s hear it for bad news, told well. The amount of DD LPs are putting in these days means that it is going to be increasingly difficult to exercise that special sort of creativity that some VCs are rumoured to be indulging in with the valuations of some slightly wonky Chinese portfolio companies. Much better to open the books and tell the story of what happened and what was learned.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Of course, one of the most important skills is getting an upfront read on who might be ready to commit and who is still waiting before making new commitments. It’s like they used to say:

Never slap a man who’s chewin’ tobacco.

So:

  1. Show what you have done
  2. Show how you did it
  3. Don’t just tell the good news
  4. Wait for the right time to tell it

If you get all that licked, you might stand half a chance!

I’ll tail off now..:

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

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