Why the private equity downturn could be a boon for certain LPs

Why the private equity downturn could be a boon for certain LPs

Jill Shaw, a managing director of endowments and foundations at Cambridge Associates, which builds portfolios and advises LPs, argues that the downturn could actually bode well for certain LPs with cash to spend in PE funds. That’s because some more sought-after PE fund managers are already more open to accepting new LPs into their funds as their longtime investors may be overallocated to the asset class and therefore pulling back, says Shaw. 

That overallocation has been the case for many LPs, even as of early last year, and is due in large part to what I and others have been talking about a lot lately: the denominator effect, where because of the poor performance of assets like stocks, the portion of LPs’ capital in private equity has become outsized. “Some investors are going to pull back [and] are pulling back, so access to some really great managers is becoming more available,” Shaw recently told me. 

In other words, “There’s a little bit of pain on both sides, which provides an opportunity for investors that aren’t feeling that pain to step in and take advantage,” as Shaw puts it. 

Shaw told me of a middle-market PE firm that, when raising their seventh fund recently, was taking into account the “environment we’re going into,” and said, “‘We think it’s going to be hard for us to raise this fund.’” She says Cambridge Associates was able to get a “lot of new access for our clients,” and predicts we’ll see more opportunities in the next year. However, since many managers already raised a ton of capital in the past year or so, they likely don’t need to go to market right away, Shaw points out—though they may return to raise in the second half of next year.

If you are a lucky LP who’s able to take advantage of such an opportunity, Shaw warns that you need to be talking regularly with the fund managers so you could be one of their first calls. 

If you can get in, now could be a historically good time to invest: Drawing on data, Shaw notes that recession-era vintages (those funds that start deploying during a downturn or recession year) have historically outperformed. That’s logical, of course, since you’re buying in at a discount and can ride the wave up when the economy starts to recover. 

The upshot is that from the LP perspective, this could present an opportunity to “upgrade their manager roster and get exposure to what should be better performing years,” Shaw says.  

Which types of managers are most in demand right now? Well, according to PitchBook data, the mega funds (those with $5 billion or more) brought in the lion’s share of funding in 2022—with 13 vehicles raising nearly $179 billion, or 52% of all fundraising dollars (in the U.S.). Think the likes of Blackstone. But Shaw argues that the “hot” funds are the “ones that have generated really strong outperformance…and that really has not been the mega-cap funds” by and large. Instead, she’s seeing the most promise in emerging managers or those that may “have spun out from one of those tried and true funds and hung their own signal and started their own funds,” says Shaw. She argues many of those harder-to-access managers, and the ones that may present an opportunity, are the middle-market PE firms with around $3 billion or less.  

However, authors of a recent annual PitchBook report on U.S. PE write that while some LPs may look to diversify with emerging managers or specialists, as LPs grow stingier with their allocations, “many are being forced to prioritize certain relationships over others, and the victor is typically the larger funds with proven track records and established relationships spanning sometimes multiple decades.” The PitchBook authors still expect mega funds to dominate fundraising in 2023 as they did in 2022.

Either way, if you’re an investor with cash to spend, you might want to ready your PE fund shopping list. 

See you tomorrow,

Anne Sraders
Twitter: @AnneSraders
Email: anne.sraders@fortune.com
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


PhonePe, a Bengaluru, India-based fintech platform, raised $350 million in funding from General Atlantic.

Pathalys Pharma, a Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based chronic kidney disease biopharmaceutical company, raised $150 million in funding. Abingworth led the round and was joined by Carlyle OrbiMed, and others.  

Presso, an Atlanta-based clothing care company, raised $8 million in seed funding. Uncork Capital, 1517 Fund, AME Cloud Ventures, Cherubic, HAX, SOSV, Pathbreaker Ventures, VSC Ventures, and YETI Capital invested in the round. 

Share Creators, a Burlingame, Calif.-based collaboration and digital file management company, raised $5 million in Series A funding. 5Y Capital led the round and was joined by Foxit.  

Grazzy, an Austin-based employee payments platform, raised $4.25 million in seed funding from Next Coast Ventures and Tuesday Capital

Kinspire, a Denver-based pediatric occupational therapy platform, raised $3.6 million in seed funding. Corazon Capital and Looking Glass Capital co-led the round and were joined by Bradley Tusk, Difference Partners, Great Oaks VC, Service Provider Capital, The Fund, and Copper Wire Ventures


Kudu Investment Management acquired a minority stake in Variant Investments, a Portland, Ore.-based alternative credit specialist and interval fund manager. Financial terms were not disclosed.


Exterro, a Leeds Equity Partners portfolio company, acquired a majority stake in Zapproved, a Portland, Ore.-based e-discovery software provider for corporate legal teams, from Vista Equity Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed. 


Inside Real Estate acquired BoomTown, a Charleston, S.C.-based sales and marketing automation platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.


BBG Ventures, a New York-based venture capital firm, promoted Claire Biernacki to principal.

Northzone, a London, New York, and Stockholm-based fund, hired Sanjot Malhi to lead growth-stage deals. Formerly, he was with Tybourne Capital

PeakEquity Partners, a Radnor, Pa.-based private equity firm, promoted Noah Ehrich to vice president. 

Rose Park Advisors, a Boston-based investment firm, promoted Chris Calder to managing director. 

Transformation Capital, a Boston and San Francisco-based growth equity firm, promoted Akhi Samant as vice president.

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