Warren Buffett: Private equity activity

“The nature of the private equity activity is such that it really isn’t a bubble that bursts. Because if you’re running a large private equity fund and you lock up $20 billion for five or longer years and you buy businesses which are not priced daily, as a practical matter — even if you do a poor job, it’s going to take many years before the score is put up on the score board, and it takes many years, in most cases, for people to get out of the private equity fund even if they wished to earlier…. The investors can’t leave and the scorecard is lacking for a long time. What will slow down the activity — or what could slow down the activity — is if yields on junk bonds became much higher than yields on high-grade bonds. Right now the spread between yields on junk bonds and high-grade bonds is down to a very low level, and history has shown that periodically that spread widens quite dramatically. That will slow down the deals, but it won’t cause the investors to get their money back.” —Warren Buffett.

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