Review: Private Equity, Direct Investing, Fund Investing, Co-investing and Secondary Investing

Review: Private Equity, Direct Investing, Fund Investing, Co-investing and Secondary Investing

Investors can invest in private equity in four different ways:

Directly, funds, co-investments and secondaries.

Direct investing is when an investor directly invests in private companies. It could be buying the entire company or a minority investment.

Fund investing is when an investor goes to a private equity fund and the private equity fund buys companies on the investor’s behalf.

Co-investing is the most complicated option. For example, an investor invests $50 million in a private equity fund with co-investment rights, meaning that when the fund looks for opportunities it can allow the investor to participate not only through the fund, but directly as well.

An example of this would be when a fund is looking at investment in a $40 million company. That investment needs $30 million equity and $10 million in debt. The equity portion given by the fund (without co-investing) would be $30 million dollars. In the case of co-investing, the fund gives $20 million (in which the investor is participating through the fund) with the remaining $10 million (i.e. The difference between the $20 million in equity given by the fund and the $30 million equity needed) is offered to the investor to do on a direct basis resulting in the fund investing $20 million and the investor investing $10 million.

When investors invest into a fund, they pay full fees, typically paying a 2% management fee and a 20% performance fee (i.e. “two and twenty”). By investing $10 million directly, other than a small deal origination fee, investors are able to reduce their overall fees. (For more on fees see Video #4).

The fourth way to invest in private equity is through secondaries. In this example our investor makes a commitment to invest $50 million in a private equity fund by giving about $10 to $20 million dollars to the private equity fund up front for the first two fund investments. As more acquisitions are made, the private equity fund makes capital calls to the investor. The investor is usually locked into the private equity fund for seven to ten years (or longer). If the investor wants out of this agreement, the commitment can be sold to other investors. The sale can be of the entire commitment (which would include the existing deals that the private equity fund was already made, plus future capital calls) or it can be done through a structured secondary (selling different parts) where the investor may want to keep the existing investments and just sell the future commitments. As easy as an investor can sell a secondary, it can buy one as well.