What You Need to Know
- The ultra-wealthy are stepping up as pension funds and endowments reach their limits.
After a record fundraising year, there are worries that private equity’s golden era is over.
Banks’ souring sentiment toward buyout loans and a drought in initial public offerings are pressuring both ends of private equity’s deal machine: the buying and selling of companies.
To make things worse, pension and endowment funds — the industry’s traditional cornerstone investors — may no longer have new money for their old friends. The culprit is their asset allocation rules.
Over the years, pension funds have been raising their stakes in private equity, to juice returns and pay retirees’ bills. But after a global selloff in bonds and stocks, their PE allocation may be hitting the ceiling.
Use the $477 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System as an illustration. In November, Calpers raised its target allocation to 13% from 8%.
But once we account for the potential losses from its public holdings, the change doesn’t appear so earth-shattering. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that Calpers’ existing PE portfolio holdings could have reached 9.5% without deploying a dollar more to alternative asset managers.
But worry not. Private equity is attracting a new wave of investors, in the form of billionaire family offices and high-net-worth retail money. Wall Street banks have done their part, enthusiastically marketing PE funds to their private-wealth clients.
For instance, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s customers contributed $1.9 billion to Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management’s latest $12.7 billion venture capital fund. The bank tapped a similar client pool to amass $2.9 billion for a new venture fund for Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management.
Meanwhile, the ultra-wealthy can’t get enough of private equity either, according to a recent UBS survey, which polled the 221 biggest family offices that on average managed $1.2 billion of assets each.