The first was in Bloomberg Businessweek and was about university endowment funds that had been put in high-risk, high-return portfolios. Some of those schools have had to issue large amounts of taxable debt to fund their working capital (i.e., to meet payrolls). An excerpt:
The loans and interest are the continuing price the colleges are paying for embracing the endowment investing model pioneered by Yale’s David Swensen. The approach produced market-beating profits by loading up on real estate, private equity and hedge funds. During the worst collapse of credit since the Great Depression, the reliance on hard-to-sell assets left them short on cash both to meet investment commitments and run their campuses.
“They thought they were terribly clever and they took those risks and now they are paying for them,” said Andrew Hacker, professor emeritus of political science at the City University of New York’s Queens College.
As deal activity has picked up, some private equity firms are turning to transactions whose merits have come under some criticism from their investor base.
Among them are so-called secondary buyouts, which involves passing a company from one private equity firm to another. There have been a flurry of these transactions this year, amounting to a record 25 percent of the value of all private equity deals....
These deals hold great appeal in the private equity ecosystem, allowing sellers to book profits and buyers to deploy their billions of dollars of unused capital.
Investment banks, meanwhile, earn big fees on these deals by advising and lending money to finance the transactions.
Secondary buyouts also tend to be more expedient than the traditional route of an initial public offering, with its regulatory hassles and the vagaries of the market, or selling to a publicly traded company whose shareholders may object.
But secondary buyouts have a mixed reputation among private equity investors. The world’s largest private equity firms share the same investor base: American public pension funds and foreign countries’ investment vehicles, or sovereign wealth funds. In some instances, these investors are selling a company through one private equity firm and buying it — at a higher price — through another firm.
...Mr. Dear, Calpers’s chief investment officer, said he had mixed emotions about the Vertafore deal and other similar ones in his portfolio.
“We still have exposure to the company but at a higher valuation,” Mr. Dear said. “To me this isn’t a sign of strength in the private equity business, but more a sign that firms must commit their capital before their investment period runs out.”