Are Novice Private Equity Funds Risk-Takers? Evidence from a Comparison with Established Funds
40 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2012 Last revised: 20 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 14, 2014
This paper explores whether private equity firms that are new to the industry take excessive risks relative to funds from established firms. We use differences between the implicit incentives of managers of experienced and of novice funds as identification strategy. We find that novice funds invest more slowly than experienced funds, contradicting the risk-taking hypothesis. However, the size of their investments, in value and as fraction of fund size, is larger; this could be consistent with risk-shifting by novice funds but also with alternative hypotheses. We find that the size difference increases over time and is absent from buyout investments. We also find that novice funds tend to underperform most dramatically for early large investments, and that the size of their investments increases after a first successful exit. These and other findings are in conflict with the excessive risk-taking hypothesis, but largely consistent with alternative explanations that emphasize differences in expertise.
Keywords: private equity funds, venture capital, buyouts, learning, reputation, risk-taking.
JEL Classification: G24, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation