Despite the recent downturn, private equity firms still have an important role to play in the global economy. At the same time, many PE firms may need to rethink their strategies. Practices that have been worked in the past may not produce acceptable returns in a future, particularly given the current constraints on financing and leverage.
One source of PE's comparative advantage, as demonstrated during the recent crisis, has been the ability of the best and most experienced firms to reorganize their portfolio companies when they get into financial trouble. But in addition to their financial management skills, specialized operating expertise has become more critical to success, and those PE firms that have not acquired it are especially likely to find that past success in raising capital is no guarantee of success in the future.
The authors begin by providing a brief overview of the past three decades of global private equity to identify how the market arrived at its current position. Using the findings of academic research together with case studies and interviews with PE practitioners in the U.K., the authors suggest a number of building blocks for the future that reflect the considerable success of the most reputable and experienced PE firms in increasing the value of their portfolio companies.