Valuing private equity

We develop a dynamic valuation model of private equity (PE) investments by solving the portfolio-choice problem for a risk-averse investor (LP), who invests in a PE fund, managed by a general partner (GP). Key features are illiquidity, leverage, GP value-adding skills (alpha), and compensation, including management fees and carriedinterest. We find that the costs of management fees, carried interest, and illiquidity are high, and the GP needs to generate substantial value to cover these costs. Leverage substantially reduces these costs. Finally, we find that conventional interpretations of PE performance measures are optimistic. On average, LPs may just break even.

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