Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Mutual Funds that Invest in Private Equity? an Analysis of Labour Sponsored Investment Funds

56 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2003 Last revised: 10 Sep 2008

Douglas J. Cumming

York University - Schulich School of Business

Jeffrey G. MacIntosh

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper


This paper considers the structure, governance and performance of a unique class of mutual funds that receives capital only from individuals, and reinvests this contributed capital in private companies, as opposed to traditional mutual funds that invest in publicly traded companies. We consider the particular class of mutual funds known as Canadian Labour-Sponsored Investment Funds (LSIFs). In contrast to expectations, we show that LSIFs have artificially low betas (the average beta is 0.10), returns that have significantly underperformed industry benchmarks (including risk-free 30-day T-bills), average management expense ratios ("MERs", or management expenses/assets) greater than 4%, and have collectively accumulated $Can10 billion (¿4.3 billion) as at 2005 since their statutory inception in various Canadian jurisdictions in the 1980s and 1990s. We show that these incongruous data are directly attributable to the LSIF statutory governance structure. LSIF legislation mandates episodic valuations that determine share prices, an 8-year investor lock-in period, and onerous constraints on capital reinvestment. LSIFs also afford to their investors tax-generated returns in excess of 100%. The LSIF structure provides generalizable insights into the relation between organizational governance and performance, and the unsuitability of mutual fund structures for private equity investment. We compare and contrast the LSIF governance structure with structures in the UK, US and Australia to draw lessons for the appropriate design of government sponsored venture capital funds.

Keywords: Mutual Funds, Venture Capital, Government Sponsorship, Risk, Return, Fundraising

JEL Classification: G23, G24, G28, G32, G38, K22

Suggested Citation

Cumming, Douglas J. and MacIntosh, Jeffrey G., Mutual Funds that Invest in Private Equity? an Analysis of Labour Sponsored Investment Funds. Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 31, pp. 445-487, 2007. Available at SSRN: or

Douglas J. Cumming (Contact Author)

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3


Jeffrey G. Macintosh

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-5795 (Phone)
416-978-2648 (Fax)

Paper statistics

Abstract Views