The spiritual home of arcade games might be about to see the launch of a new blockbuster if Toshiba approves a $22 billion buyout deal. Japan has long been suspicious of private equity but as it softens its view, some of the industry’s biggest names will be hoping to earn the highest score and secure their champion credentials. It may only be Round 1 but expect to see plenty of action over the coming months as the deal takes shape and players get eliminated.
Private equity groups are entering a new period that could well find them having to rethink their hurdle rates. With government bonds yielding 4.5% and private equity returns likely to recalibrate to a lower level in today’s challenging markets, General Partners cannot risk pulling a hamstring by setting the performance bar too low. Many will increasingly find investors exercising their negotiating skills to raise the hurdle rate and lower fees. In this competitive arena, who will have the flexibility, and the confidence, to meet the hurdle rate challenge?
Family offices are playing it smart as they increase their allocations to private equity by investing directly in businesses that are close to their heart. The Global Family Office Report just published by UBS shows that 42% of families plan to increase these investments, with many looking to invest into businesses at an earlier stage. It makes sense given that entrepreneurial blood runs through their veins. And if it leads to higher returns…well, we all know that a Happy Family is priceless!
Sky high valuations have created conditions necessary for the Private Equity Industry to Strike Back and complete deals at prices that could yet prove to be costly. But far from engaging in weird Jedi mind tricks that are hoodwinking investors, GPs are simply responding to market dynamics and let’s face it, the galaxy is hardly at threat if the odd deal or two goes awry. Some might compare it to a Ponzi scheme but this is an industry where performance has lived up to scrutiny so maybe it’s time to relax and have a drink in the Cantina Bar. Mine’s the first round!
Acquisitions of pop artists’ music catalogues are proving to be quite a hit parade for private equity groups as they look to cash in on attractive royalties. Private equity and pop music seems an unlikely collaboration with the potential risk of being a ‘one hit wonder’…anyone still remember Chesney Hawkes? Firms like UK-based Hypgnosis Songs Fund are finding their Nile Rodgers groove and acquiring huge numbers of well-known songs to generate returns. They’ve just acquired Justin Timberlake’s entire catalogue for $100 million. That’s gotta be worth making a song and dance about!
We’ve all enjoyed a family evening playing Monopoly at least once in our lives, and it often ends with squabbles and vows of ‘I’m never speaking to you again!’ US buyout groups might find themselves in a similar situation as the Department of Justice’s antitrust division looks to end the high-stakes game of acquiring large corporations that have even the slightest whiff of ‘anti-competition’. The DoJ is rolling the dice on this, as it will be far from easy to enforce. But the fact it is training its sights on buyout deals could be enough to induce a PE community chest pain.
It looks like UK private equity firms have tapped in to their ‘inner Gallic’ sensibilities. Rather than get all hot and flustered at the prospects of Brexit for their European deal making, they appear to have responded with a swift shrug of the shoulders and a perfunctory ‘Meh’. During 2021, UK general partners charged across the channel to do business with their cosy neighbours, completing some 442 deals. One wonders what all the Brexit fuss was about. Like the cigar smoke on a late summer afternoon, it seems to have evaporated like a bad memory. That good old British pragmatism is alive and well!
Tiger Global has endured a sharp decline in 2022, wiping out 2020’s gains, as US technology companies fall prey to investor inflation fears. The hedge fund’s exposure to private companies has further compounded its losses, which will prove tough to claw back over the near term. Playing across both public and private markets can lead to roaring returns when market sentiment is high but as we are now seeing, it can also deliver a sharp bite.
LPs have had such a thirst for private equity in recent years that they’ve drunk the bar dry! Some no longer have capacity to take on additional capital commitments, impelling GPs to come up with ever more creative ways to entice them into their latest buyout funds. It’s been an incredible period for PE fundraising but even the best parties fizzle out. This next period could be the most competitive yet as GPs look to out-compete their peers on the dance floor.
The deal struck by Schroders this week to acquire sustainable infrastructure manager, Greencoat Capital – outbidding ten other asset managers – suggests that demand for private market talent is red hot. Talent is a highly sought after commodity and comes with its own supply chain constraints. Buying ‘ready made’ teams of specialists might be easier than enticing people away from their well-paid roles but could this trend lead to culture clashes and disharmony?