Monday, November 9, 2015

3Q 2015 Private Equity Environment

Global equity markets fell sharply in the third quarter, driven by concerns over slowing global growth, particularly in China, and uncertainty over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. The MSCI World Index declined by 8.3% in the third quarter, the index’s worst quarterly performance since the third quarter of 2011. Nearly every single-country equity index posted a loss, led by the Shanghai Composite, which declined by 27.9% during the quarter despite a raft of measures undertaken by the Chinese government to stem the sell-off. Other emerging markets and commodities also declined significantly, weighted down by fears of contagion and the knock-on effects of a slowdown in China. The S&P GSCI index, which measures a basket of 24 different commodities, declined by 19.3% in the third quarter, which brought the index to its lowest level since 1999.

  • Equity market volatility adversely impacted IPO issuance during the quarter. Global IPO issuance in 3Q15 totaled $13.6 billion, a 76.8% decline from 3Q14 and the lowest quarterly total since 1Q12. 
  • Global buyout investment activity has increased only moderately over the past few years, and 2015 is on track to continue the trend. YTD 3Q15 buyout transaction activity totaled $289.8 billion, an increase of 2.7% over YTD 3Q14
  • PE firms worldwide raised $58.1 billion in 3Q15, a 43% decrease from the prior quarter and a 31% decrease from 3Q14. The decrease was driven by buyout- and U.S.-focused fundraising activity
Private Equity Investment Activity
U.S. Buyout Investment Activity

U.S. buyout investment activity totaled $55.8 billion during the third quarter of 2015, down approximately 14% from both the prior quarter and the same period in 2014, according to data from
Thomson Reuters. This brought total U.S. buyout investment activity for the first three quarters
of the year to $190 billion, a decline of 5% from the same period in 2014. The year-over-year decline in investment activity is reflective of the increasing wariness of many general partners in the face of rising valuations in a competitive market environment. Many general partners are setting a high bar for new investments, which is restraining overall investment activity. The average purchase-price-to-EBITDA multiple (across all transaction sizes) for new buyout
investments was 10.3x for the first three quarters of 2015, up from 9.7x for all of 2014, according to S&P LCD. Although average purchase-price multiples are increasing, general partners continue to be disciplined and are structuring their transactions conservatively: the average equity contribution
rate for a buyout transaction completed so far this year is 40.8%, and the average debt-to-EBITDA multiple is 5.6x; the corresponding rate and multiple for all of 2014 are 37.0%
and 5.7x, respectively (see table 3).

Non-investment-grade debt markets were not immune to financial market volatility during the third quarter. The BofA Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II index generated a –4.9% return in the third
quarter, which drove an increase in its option-adjusted spread to 662 basis points over U.S. Treasuries—its highest level since June 2012. U.S. leveraged loan issuance totaled $115 billion in the third quarter, a decline of 14.8% from the year-ago period. Year-to-date 2015, U.S. leveraged loan issuance totaled $341 billion, a 24.3% decline from the same period in 2014. The decline in leveraged
loan issuance was due to a number of factors, including the slowdown in buyout investment activity in recent quarters, a shift toward more-conservative financing structures (which occurred as a result of the banking industry’s new leveraged lending guidelines), and the recent increase in credit spreads (which is tempering issuer appetites).
The largest announced U.S.-based buyout transaction during the quarter was the $12.6 billion acquisition of Oncor, a Texas-based electric transmission company, by a syndicate of investors including the Hunt Group, Avenue Capital, Centerbridge Capital, and GSO Partners. If completed, this would also be the largest buyout transaction of the year thus far. The investor group is acquiring Oncor from Energy Future Holdings, which is currently in bankruptcy court, eight years after its record-setting buyout led by KKR and TPG. Other notable buyout transactions announced during the
quarter include the $8.0 billion carve-out of Veritas from Symantec, led by Carlyle Group, and the $6.5 billion take-private of insurance software provider Solera, led by Vista Equity Partners.

Fundraising Market

Private equity firms worldwide raised $58.1 billion in the third quarter of 2015, a 43% decrease from the prior quarter and a 31% decrease from the $84.7 billion raised in the year-ago quarter, according to Thomson Reuters. The third quarter figure brought year-to-date worldwide private equity
fundraising to $246 billion, which is just slightly ahead of the $245 billion raised over the same period in 2014.

The quarter-over-quarter decrease in worldwide private equity fundraising was primarily driven by U.S.-focused funds, which raised $31.5 billion in the third quarter—a 58% decrease
from the prior quarter and a 44% decrease from the year-ago quarter. Significant decreases relative to the second quarter of 2015 occurred in each major strategy. After strong starts to the year for both U.S. buyout and venture capital fundraising, the strategies raised just $13.6 billion and $4.6
billion, respectively, which rank 33% and 24% below the average quarterly levels experienced for their strategies over the past five years. Notable U.S.-focused fund closings during the third quarter include American Industrial Partners VI, which raised $1.8 billion, and Insight Venture Partners IX, which held its final closing at $3.3 billion.

Europe-focused funds raised $19.9 billion during the third quarter, flat from the prior quarter but up 8% from the amount raised in the year-ago quarter. The primary driver of the region’s year-over-year increase was the growth in venture capital fundraising: the $3.0 billion raised during the third quarter was the highest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2008. Asia-Pacific-focused funds raised $5.9 billion during the quarter, an 83% increase from the measured second quarter; however, the year-to-date total of $14.7 billion raised in 2015 represents less than 50% of the corresponding 2014 total. The largest Asia-Pacific-focused fundraising round held during the third quarter was that of Chinese venture capital fund Shunwei China Internet Fund III, which closed on $1.0 billion. 

During the third quarter, buyout funds raised $30.3 billion, a 43% decrease from the prior quarter (or a decrease of 15% when excluding the $17.0 billion close of Blackstone Capital Partners VII in the second quarter). Fundraising within the segment was broad-based: nine buyout-focused partnerships raised $1.0 billion or greater, highlighted by EQT VII, which closed on $7.4 billion, the largest amount raised during the quarter. Fundraising for venture capital–focused funds remained relatively flat during the third quarter: the $9.9 billion raised worldwide represented a 5% decrease
from the prior quarter and a 5% increase from the year-ago quarter. The aforementioned decline in U.S. venture capital fundraising, combined with a greater than 70% increase in quarter-over-quarter fundraising in every other major global region, resulted in just 46% of the worldwide venture capital
fundraising total being raised in the United States—the lowest percentage raised by the region since the fourth quarter
of 2011.

Energy-focused fundraising experienced a significant slowdown during the third quarter, following three consecutive quarters of record-setting activity. Energy funds raised $5.5 billion, which represents a 27% decrease from the strategy’s 5-year quarterly average of $7.5 billion. Despite the decrease in overall volume, notable firms in the energy private equity space continued to accumulate significant amounts of capital following the downturn in oil and natural gas prices: Ridgewood Energy Oil & Gas III ($1.6 billion), Apollo Natural Resources Partners II ($1.3 billion), and ArcLight Energy Partners VI ($0.9 billion) accounted for 70% of the quarterly energy fundraising total. Fundraising for other private equity strategies (i.e., subordinated debt, infrastructure, and special
situations) represented 21% of the total amount raised during the third quarter.

Source: Pathway Capital, Bloomberg, S&P LCD. 

Note: Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but Redmount accepts no responsibility or liability (including for indirect, consequential or incidental damages) for any error, omission or inaccuracy of such information. The projections shown are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or providing any assurance or guarantee as to returns that may be realized in the future from your private equity commitments. Projections and expected returns are subject to high levels of uncertainty regarding future economic and market factors that may affect future performance.Accordingly, such projections/expectations should be viewed as only one possibility out of a broad range of possible outcomes.


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