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Private Equity panel: Definitive info or Hypothesizing?

October 29th, 2008

Tonight I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel discussion on Private Equity and their views on the 2009 Outlook. The panel was hosted by the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business. While not a Top-25 school, they’ve been doing some good work locally in expanding their alumni base and putting on some worthwhile events. The panel was comprised of three MD’s/VP’s with a variety of industry participation between them. The panel was moderated by a Thompson/Reuters contributing editor.

While I typically look forward to these events, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in that tonights panel lacked some of the definitive information I always look forward to taking away from the event. While the group said they are still pursuing deals, the discussion centered around the common knowledge of lack of credit, lower multiples, lower debt requirements, and the emergence of more seller financing in deals. Thanks, but isn’t this the same information I’ve been reading about in The Deal magazine, hearing on CNBC, and seeing in the WSJ every day? Isn’t this the same information that’s been a topic of discussion at FEI events over the last 6-8 months?

For a Finance professional who is always looking to deliver additional value for shareholders, whether I’m looking to sell the business or not, it would have been more insightful for the panel to discuss how Buyers and Sellers can come to the table at such a difficult time in the market and structure a deal that is advantageous for both sides. If you’re a company that has no near-term pressure to sell or raise capital, how do you explore strategic alliances or structure minority deals in this market without leaving shareholder value on the table? The event would have been a better success if there was more definitive discussion and less hypothesizing about where the market might be headed.

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

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