Much of the material in this issue, our biggest ever, deals with the place where most private equity investors go when they want liquidity: the secondary market.
Those interested in the subject – can anyone not be in this business? – might start with this month's Asset Class on page 23, which discusses portfolio valuation. This is relevant because in order to be able to sell an investment, you need to know what it's worth. Obvious? Maybe, but this is private equity we are talking about. Practitioners say there are still plenty of owners coming to market with rather foggy ideas as to what might be a fair price.
Next the liquidity-minded reader may turn to this month's Privately Speaking with George Anson of fund of funds primus HarbourVest. With a multi-billion dollar secondaries franchise, HarbourVest is trading private equity assets with the best of them, and Anson's views on what might be possible in secondaries going forward are thought-provoking and insightful.
The cover story picks up where Anson and Asset Class leave off, looking at two key trends that are transforming the way this market operates. First, new types of buyers such as fund of funds, pensions and endowments have entered the market, trawling for assets whilst trying to stay out of the way of the established houses. Second, the nature of the assets being traded is changing as well: direct investments, as opposed to partnership interests, is very much where it's at for many at the moment.
The secondary market is changing with astonishing pace, and there would have been plenty of other things to discuss. Suffice to say at this point that we have every intention of staying close to secondaries. We believe our readers intend to, too.
Philip BorelManaging Editor