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Understanding Private Equity: The Asset Class You Can No Longer Ignore


This article is sponsored by The Wharton School.

With market uncertainties growing, many investors and their advisors are taking a closer look at private equity. In fact, this asset class is now attracting a sizeable segment of the economy, and it has an ecosystem that includes not only private equity firms, but banks that cover their debt, individual investors, and companies looking to sell or being approached for a sale.

“No one needed to understand private equity 30 years ago,” says Wharton finance professor and director of the school’s Alternative Investments Initiative Bilge Yilmaz. “But today, you can no longer ignore it. Private equity has evolved from deal-making by the ultra-wealthy to an investment option for individuals.” Yilmaz says that with so many people now involved, the bidding can be intense — and the chance of making a costly mistake is great. “You need to be able to see value where others can’t, and understand how a deal is put together. If you’re an investor, you will inevitably have to compete with others, so your ability to do good sourcing and due diligence is key.”

Yilmaz has been teaching private equity to Wharton MBA students for many years, providing them an edge that they can put to use in their first deal. Now, he is bringing the same innovative curriculum to an open-enrollment course for business executives in the four-day program Private Equity: Investing and Creating Value.

“We will help participants gain exposure to the strategies that private equity firms use to structure and finance a deal and create value for their investors. They will understand the key drivers in private equity and gain confidence in evaluating investment opportunities,” he says. In addition to best practices in and tools for structuring a deal, sessions on due diligence, debt negotiations, and exit strategies will show participants how to get maximum value from their investments.

“You need to experience the life of a deal to appreciate the knowledge and strategies that go into it.” Bilge Yilmaz, PhD, Wharton Private Equity Professor, Professor of Finance, The Wharton School

Yilmaz will be joined by other finance faculty and Wharton alumni who are leaders in many areas of the private equity industry. They will share their experiences and discuss their views on the private equity landscape. Outside the classroom, participants will work on deal proposals in small groups, applying what they have learned, using as reference a recent private equity deal. They will apply the tools that private equity firms use to structure and finance a deal, and show how it will create value. “This is the best way to learn,” says Yilmaz. “You need to experience the life of a deal to appreciate the knowledge and strategies that go into it. I want participants to be able to articulate why they want to own this business.”

A deal proposal will be presented to a panel of faculty and alumni who will provide real-time feedback at the end of the program. “This is not just an exercise,” say Yilmaz. “It’s a reality check on what you have learned in the program, how well you can apply it, and what you can do to improve.”


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Transforming Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets

This article is sponsored by State Street.


– Vision 2030 and the Aramco privatization mark a decisive point to advance Saudi Arabia’s financial sector — a critical ingredient to the country’s economic transformation

– Saudi’s “Financial Triad” remains partially incomplete with a sound banking system and a rapidly emerging equity market, but an immature bond market.

– The privatization of Saudi state assets (including Aramco) could deliver a boost to the depth and sophistication of the Saudi equity market and — if cleverly designed— have positive spillover effects into other areas of finance and policy.

– The timing is ideal to launch an accompanying systematic drive to build local currency bond markets, which is a prerequisite for achieving the broader economic goals of Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is remarkable in its aspiration to engineer far-reaching economic transformation. As a global asset manager, we note that one of the three pillars of this vision sets out the aim to make the country a “global investment powerhouse.” 1

While Saudi Arabia has a strong legacy as a sovereign investor in foreign markets, this ambition also requires its local financial system to deepen across all sectors. Strong capital markets work together with a banking system to channel investment and ensure efficient capital allocation across the economy. In the absence of such channels, many worthwhile business ventures never take place, capital is misallocated and underutilized, and economic growth remains below its potential.

To read the full study please click here.

1 Foreword to Vision 2030,

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Sovereign Wealth Funds as a Driver of African Development

This article is sponsored by Quantum Global.

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are becoming important sources of development in many countries. African SWFs have been growing in recent years, as many countries joined the international trend in establishing SWFs, while many others are preparing to join. Growth of SWFs has been driven by rising commodity prices until 2014 and improving economic growth rates. At the same time, Africa continues to face a number of development challenges, raising the question of whether SWFs can play a role in fostering economic development on the continent. This paper analyses the dynamics and role of SWFs in promoting development in Africa. The paper notes that SWFs can play a more active role in Africa’s development by bridging the infrastructure funding gap, supporting industrial development and economic diversification, reducing macroeconomic volatility and enhancing intergenerational equity. For SWFs to be effective in delivering their mandates and supporting economic development, they need to have clear goals and objectives, improve their governance and transparency frameworks, improve their risk management frameworks and embrace the Santiago Principles. African governments need to develop more attractive frameworks and climates for SWFs to invest in the continent, especially in sectors that contribute more directly to addressing Africa’s development needs.

To read the full study please click here.

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Collateral: The New Performance Driver

This article is sponsored by BNY Mellon.


In 2017, the global buy-side community faces considerable liquidity and funding pressures, stemming from market and regulatory reforms that are causing disruption. As a result, access to high-quality collateral, funding and liquidity is not only a pressing concern but has emerged as the essential new performance driver for the buy-side.

This disruption is the result of two opposing forces. Stringent regulatory requirements are forcing market participants to seek collateral — generally of high quality — in order to secure trading exposures. At the same time, the sell-side — or dealer-sponsored financial plumbing used to supply liquidity and collateral to the market — is experiencing challenges due to Basel III capital and liquidity constraints.

A major concern among multiple buy-side firms is that the next market-stress event will occur not because of a lack of collateral in the financial system but rather due to the inaccessibility of this collateral.¹ This scenario is forcing firms to reevaluate their collateralized trading portfolios, recalibrate asset allocation strategies and in some cases review the investment products offered to end clients.

This paper presents the findings from BNY Mellon–PwC outreach to senior buy-side executives from over 120 global firms conducted during the first quarter of 2017. It provides insights on demand-supply imbalances that are being experienced by buyside firms and the possible solutions they are exploring in response to fears that ready access to liquidity and high-quality collateral may become scarce in the years ahead.

The picture that emerged from these discussions was one of a buy-side community both grappling to adjust to its new collateralized trading obligations as well as striving to secure access to sustainable sources of funding and liquidity.

To read the full study please click here.

1. Collateral can be inaccessible due to decreasing velocity of collateral, which indicates how much, on average, a single dollar of collateral is reused over a period of time. This is analogous to the concept of “velocity of money.”

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