Sitting down with the buyside

We've been keen to run an LP roundtable ever since we launched the magazine. A frank exchange of views between investment professionals who eat, drink and sleep private equity – what better way to find out what really moves the buyside?

You could be forgiven for thinking that those who have been active in private equity are nowadays in two minds about it. They are not. At least the group we assembled (who manage many billions of capital) clearly are ardent supporters, in the class for the long haul and often passionately defending its merits against the scepticism of the non-believers. When, as is currently the case, private equity distributions are thin on the ground and the investor has little by way of return to show for his or her investment efforts, making the case for the asset class takes no small commitment.

But when it comes to a more inward-looking assessment, even the most loyal enthusiasts can turn into fierce critics of the industry. The more experienced the investors, the more quarrels they are likely to have with the way private equity is done, and in particularly the way general partners are going about their business.

It's in part this kind of tension that makes an LP roundtable so interesting. It's also a key driver to the evolution of this magazine.

When we held PEI's first European LP roundtable in November, on the eve of the Super Investor conference in Paris, six seasoned LPs engaged in a passionate debate which covered most of what investors feel is not right with the asset class today – and yet you also had the sense that all of the six were very much enjoying their time investing in the asset class – as opposed to fixed income or equities.

The highlights of the discussion are on page 22 of this issue. There is plenty more to discuss, and it was also striking that the investors involved clearly enjoyed being there as well. We are certainly going to be doing this more often therefore: the next PEI LP roundtable will be in the April issue.

Philip Borel

Managing Editor