Private Equity Performance
The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation 2012-08-13
In our recent NBER working paper, Private Equity Performance: What Do We Know?, my co-authors (Tim Jenkinson of the University of Oxford and Robert Harris of the University of Virginia) and I use a new research-quality data set of private equity fund-level cash flows from Burgiss. We refer to private equity as the asset class that includes buyout funds and venture capital (VC) funds. We analyze the two types of funds separately. The data set has a number of attractive features that we describe in detail later. A key attribute is that the data are derived entirely from institutional investors (the limited partners or LPs) for whom Burgiss’ systems provide recordkeeping and performance monitoring services. This results in detailed, verified and crosschecked investment histories for nearly 1400 private equity funds derived from the holdings of over 200 institutional investors. Using these data we reassess the performance of private equity funds, in absolute terms and relative to public markets. Our results are markedly more positive for buyout funds than have previously been documented.