from Funds Hub:

An unpleasant prospect

rtxd578There's no shortage of ill will towards bankers at the moment.

But some executives in the private equity and hedge funds industries feel they are getting beaten with the same stick by politicians and the public, despite feeling relatively blameless in this crisis.

BC Partners managing partner Andrew Newington, speaking at the Reuters Hedge Fund & Private Equity Summit in London today, explained.

"There is clearly no political goodwill towards financial services in general and everyone within financial services is being lumped into the same bucket," he said.

"So whether you're an investment bank, whether you're Fred Goodwin, whether you're a private equity firm or hedge fund, it doesn't matter, you appear on a placard at Canary Wharf with a noose around your neck, which isn't a very pleasant prospect."

from Funds Hub:

$3 trillion of hedge fund talent? “Absolute nonsense!”

The once-booming hedge fund industry has shrunk rapidly over the past 9 months to roughly $1-$1.4 trillion, as investors have pulled out their cash following some pretty lacklustre returns.

kfd05However, according to Mark Kary, chief executive of Polar Capital, the industry never really deserved to have grown to the best part of $3 trillion in the first place.

He told today's Reuters Hedge Fund and Private Equity Summit in London that while hedge funds had become a "fashion item" in the good times, when it comes down to it there simply isn't enough talent to support an industry of $3 trillion.

PE feeds on Bankruptcies

KENYABack in February, Apollo Management founder Leon Black said he expected no return to the leveraged buyout salad days for at least two years, and that his and other dens of private equity would have to make do on paltry meals of distressed debt until then.

That carrion diet is still the order of the day. Caroline Humer reports that Apollo plans to take ownership of most of Charter Communications through the cable company’s reorganization in bankruptcy court. Citing three sources familiar with the situation, she says Apollo, which has purchased Charter’s debt, plans to own the majority of its equity following the bankruptcy restructuring, which includes a preplanned reorganization of its debt and an equity rights offering.

Apollo’s move seems to be more evidence that what Black said in Germany earlier this year is settling into the permafrost of the great credit freeze. “The big public-to-privates are gone the way of the dodo,” he said.

Chairgate: the Economist recants

The Economist has published a correction to its earlier report that Henry Kravis, KKR’s archetypal “Barbarian at the Gate”, may have stumped up 22 million euros for a chair once owned by Yves Saint Laurent:

“Our report suggested that Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis may have been the purchasers of an early 20th-century chair designed by Eileen Gray. Mr Kravis assures us that neither he nor anyone in his family bought the chair in question. Our apologies to all concerned,” the free-trade-loving weekly says.

Our post yesterday on the Economist’s original story prompted some acerbic follow-ups elsewhere in the blogosphere and a firm denial from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts HQ.

UPDATED: KKR denies an auction victory

(This updates an earlier post with KKR’s denial).

Maybe the days of private equity paying eye-watering prices at auction really are over.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has firmly denied a report in the Economist’s books and arts section saying that, despite the deep economic funk, buyout doyen Henry Kravis was behind the “startling” $28 million purchase of a vintage chair at the recent Yves Saint Laurent sale in Paris:

“Who, in the current climate, were the buyers?” the Economist asked. ”Few prices were more startling than the €22m commanded by an early 20th-century chair designed by Eileen Gray. Cheska Vallois, an Art Deco dealer, won the work in the room; it is thought that she did so on behalf of Henry and Marie-José Kravis, who had already acquired examples of Gray’s work from Ms. Vallois at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.”

Doom and glee in bankruptcy

Top-class bankruptcy lawyers, vulture investors and credit experts revealed a range of emotions at a bankruptcy conference on Thursday, from doom and gloom to subdued confidence, but some comments bordered on outright glee.

Reflecting on the prospects for distressed investing opportunities this year, Michael Psaros, managing partner at KPS Capital Partners, was blunt.

“We are going to invest an awful lot of money this year,” Psaros said, during a Dow Jones restructuring and turnaround conference in New York. “We’re just very excited about this year and next.”

Wilbur still wants a bank

Wilbur RossWilbur Ross is still in the running for a bank, although his plans to buy one were delayed when the U.S. government stepped in with its $700 billion package to bail out the sector, the investor told CNN Money in an interview.

The rescue package delayed Ross’ plans by six to 12 months, the report said.

“We will end up with a bank, there is no doubt about that,” the report quoted Ross as saying.

Crystal ball: PE active in finance

Crystal ballHaving largely held off from picking up cheap financial services assets last year, private equity firms will boost their buying as low valuations make assets in the sector too attractive to pass up, a new report predicts.

The increased interest will come as these firms look for ways to  use funds raised in the last two years and regulators further loosen restrictions on ownership of banks, independent advisory firm Freeman & Co projects in its annual summary on transactions. Buyout shops have about $600 billion to work with.

Private equity tested the financial sector waters last year – and sometimes got burned. But they have continued to look at the sector with interest. Private equity firms put in $23 billion in 84 financial services deals last year, down 69 percent from 2007, Freeman said.

New Year’s resolutions for PE, Cerberus?

comic-book-guyFor M&A bankers, 2008 is perhaps best remembered using the catchphrase of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons: “Worst. Year. Ever.”
Dealmaking reached record lows in 2008, dominated by cancelled deals. At the start of 2009, questions linger about several companies, executives and deals. Most notably, though, there is a big question mark over private equity.     

Last year was a bad year for PE firms as credit markets became too tight, stocks fell unpredictably low, and deals that were announced in better times began falling apart.  PE deals fell to a five-year low.

The ‘Golden Age’ of PE quickly faded as many of the biggest buyouts announced in 2007 collapsed in 2008, including the $41 billion deal for Canadian telecommunications operator BCE, the largest announced buyout in history.    

CalPERs private equity stakes under microscope

London-based private equity research firm Preqin has been busy crunching numbers from historical sales of pension fund giant CalPERS’ private equity assets.

The California pension fund sold $2.1 billion of private equity assets in late 2007 in the secondary market — which trades private equity stakes between the pension funds and endowment funds that want to exit or buy.

CalPERS updated information on its Website earlier this week giving fund data up to June 30. The tables are detailed, and forensic work is needed to work out the funds exited or bought into. Preqin said in a press release today that the net asset value of funds sold equates to 9 percent of CalPERs overall portfolio, and calculates the remaining value of its private equity portfolio at $21.5 billion.