Private Equity Valuation Before and After ASC 820
47 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2019
Date Written: July 16, 2018
We examine the effect of ASC 820 (formerly known as SFAS 157) on the valuations reported by U.S. private equity funds to their investors. In 2008, the FASB implemented ASC 820 to achieve more consistent measurement and increased transparency in fair value reporting. This new standard clarified the most critical accounting policy for private equity funds, which typically include highly illiquid investments. Exploiting a setting where we can observe all cash flows over a fund’s lifetime, we show that the interim reported net asset valuations (NAVs) of liquidated private equity funds more accurately predict future net distributions to investors following ASC 820 adoption, particularly for venture funds. We supplement our findings with a difference-in-difference test and numerous robustness checks. Our findings shed light on financial reporting in an opaque industry and suggest that enhanced guidance for the implementation of fair value accounting in ASC 820 improved the information environment in a significant cross-section of the financial markets.
Keywords: private equity, NAV, NPV, fair value accounting
JEL Classification: G1, G10, G30, M4, M41
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