REPORT Private EquityUnited StatesWall Street

Are Lower Private Equity Returns the New Normal?


June 2016 (Updated March 2017), Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt

This report was updated in March 2017.

U.S. private equity fundraising had its best year ever in 2015 — raising $185 billion. But is the enthusiasm of investors warranted? Do PE buyout funds deliver outsized returns to investors and will they do so in the future? This report answers this question by reviewing the most recent empirical evidence on buyout fund performance; the answer is no. While median private equity buyout funds once beat the S&P 500, they have not done so since 2006 — despite industry claims to the contrary.

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