The majority of buyout funds over the years have had a diversified investment focus in terms of both the number or funds raised and the aggregated capital secured, according to a new analysis of fundraising data by Preqin, the alternatives data provider.
Preqin found, however, that many investors thought a manager with deep knowledge of a specific industry would make better-informed investment decisions, leading to superior performance.
Performance is critical, as many investors looking for a new fund manager list the general partner’s past performance as their chief criterion.
Preqin reported that 37% of investors in a survey listed past performance as the most important factor in assessing a new manager.
Diversified vs. Sector Specific
Is there a difference between the two approaches?
Preqin researchers compared performance of diversified and sector-specific funds by examining 1,690 buyout funds with vintages from 1982 to 2012.
Twenty-nine percent of sector-specific funds ranked in the top quartile, compared with 24% of the diversified buyout funds.
“While no guarantee of future performance, this analysis shows that those fund managers that exclusively target one industry have historically been more likely to achieve top-quartile returns,” Preqin said.
But individual industries matter, Preqin found, as sector-specific funds produced mixed performance.
Some industries generated superb track records, with significant proportions of funds performing extremely well, or only a minority of funds falling into the bottom quartile.
Telecoms, media and communications and information technology were star performers. Thirty-three percent of funds focused on TMS and 32% focused on IT landed in the top quartile, and just 13% of IT-focused funds fell into the bottom quartile.
In contrast, 32% of buyout funds focused exclusively on health care wound up in the bottom quartile, and 24% in the top quartile.
Preqin found that earlier vintages of diversified funds had a higher median net internal rate of return, but that the trend reversed in 2005.
Most recent data for vintage 2012 funds showed a considerable difference between the two fund categories, with sector-specific buyout funds maintaining their performance edge.
Preqin statistics showed a continued bias for diversified funds. At present, 227 funds are trying to raise $202 billion in aggregate capital.
Only 39% of buyout vehicles, representing 26% of all capital sought, will invest in only one industry.
Preqin noted that as investors’ appetite for sector-specific funds has increased, separate account vehicles have become more prominent.
It cited as one example the New Jersey Division of Investment’s $150 million commitment in the NJ/HitecVision co-investment vehicle, which explores opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Following are the biggest sector-specific and diversified buyout funds seeking to raise capital, according to Preqin data. 10 Largest Sector-Specific Buyout Funds in Market
Sole Industry Focus
Charterhouse Capital Partners X (Europe), $3.4 billion—Consumer discretionary