Sunday, March 31, 2019

Private Equity, Intriguing and…Complicated

Private equity is a passion investment with a difference, observes Paul Sullivan in the NY Times. Unlike art, cars or collectibles, "it is a financial investment, not a tangible asset. You can’t hang it on your wall, park it in your garage or serve it with dinner. But it has a cachet from the past successes of other investors, and the high barrier to entry creates an air of intrigue."

That air of intrigue covers a wide field – vaster than some investors may realize. The Washington Post's David Ignatius has been studying the murder of his friend and colleague Jamal Khashoggi. He finds that some members of the Saudi hit team that killed Khashoggi may have been trained, under U.S. government auspices, by companies owned by affiliates of a major private equity firm. He also notes that an Israeli-founded company noted for its phone-hacking capabilities is now a British private equity holding.

The appeal of private equity, writes Sullivan, is "the promise of exclusive deals, outsize returns and enviable cocktail parties." Some deals, however, may not be appropriate cocktail party conversation.

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