Private-equity firms sometimes attract controversy. They also attract something else: interest from a wide variety of institutions.
Investors ranging from pension plans and charities to global insurance companies and university endowments have placed money with private-equity firms.
Public and private pension funds represent 43% of all the money invested with leveraged buyout firms in 2010, the most-recent year tracked by the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. Foundations represented 12% of the money invested.
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What is the appeal? For one, the returns. While stocks have spent the last decade treading water, and bond yields are near all-time lows, private-equity firms on the whole have scored gains for their customers.
Top 10 Investors in Private Equity
|Name of Firm||Allocation to Private Equity (in millions of dollars)|
|1. AlpInvest Partners Netherlands||53,786|
|2. HarbourVest Partners U.S.||34,000|
|3. Goldman Sachs Private Equity Group U.S.||34,000|
|4. Credit Suisse Asset Management Switzerland||33,000|
|5. California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) U.S.||32,000|
|6. Kuwait Investment Authority Kuwait||29,600|
|7. Credit Suisse Customized Fund Investment Group U.S.||27,707|
|8. Pathway Capital Management U.S.||26,000|
|9. Pantheon Ventures UK||25,040|
|10. CPP Investment Board Canada||24,837|
As of September 2011, median private-equity returns for large public pension funds over the past five years was 6.63%, according to Wilshire Associates. Median stock-market returns for those funds were a negative 0.86% over that same five-year period.