Investing in Private Markets

Broadly speaking private assets encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure and private debt. Although private assets represent a significant portion of the global investment opportunities and investment professionals in private assets are among the highest paid group of professionals, investing in private markets is not frequently covered at business schools due to lack of transparency and lack of data. Compared to public assets such as public equity and fixed income securities, students are less familiar with the risk and return profiles of private assets as well as the ways of value creation at the deal level. As a result, they are often not well prepared to develop a career in private markets. This course starts with a brief introduction of private equity industry with a focus on the types of players (such as general partners, limited partners, portfolio companies, consultants) – who they are and what they do and the basics of business model such as fund design, distribution of economics and fee structure. The discussion continues with different stages of private equity investing, from venture investing to growth to buyout with a case study “The Carlyle Group and the AZ-EM Buyout” (IBD) to illustrate the four main means to add value in private equity investing: buy low (deal sourcing, deal structuring and legal considerations), add (smart) leverage, increase EBITDA (e.g., revenue growth – organic and non-organic and margin growth via operational improvements,) and sell high (when and how to exiting). The course provides a deep-dive analysis of the most profitable private equity deal in history – Blackstone’s Hilton deal, as well as the history of private equity industry with a case study on “Blackstone at Age 30” (HBS). The second half of the course discusses the current mega trends in the economy and investment universe, trends of technological disruption that fundamentally affect the types of investment deals by private equity industry. For example, what are the risks and opportunities presented by autonomous vehicles and its impact on the entire ecosystem of the automobile industry? What about clean energy such as wind, solar and hydrogen? In addition to technological trends, what does the transition to low-carbon economy mean to the private equity industry? How to mitigate risks as well as capture new opportunities created by these mega trends?