Lise Buyer says private equity still on hold

John Shinal · November 1, 2008 · Short URL:

Investors will wait to see full effect of "nasty economic realities"

Professional money managers have cash to put to work investing in tech startups, but they won't be willing to do that until private-company valuations have fully priced in the ongoing financial crisis.

That was one of the main takeaways from a meeting of bankers, VCs, attorneys and others who keep a close eye on the private equity landscape.

The AlwaysOn event gathered the top 2008 deal makers in tech and asked them to discuss the state of private investing right now.

The general mood was upbeat -- what you would expect from a room full of optimists -- peppered with a dose of reality in a world where VC firms and their limited partners are worth significantly less than they were a year ago.

We got a handful of folks to give us their thoughts on camera, and we'll roll those interviews out in the next few days as part of our continued coverage of the global financial crisis.

First up is Lise Buyer, the former stock analyst, investment banker and Google exec whose new firm, Class V Group, consults with startups considering an IPO.

According to Buyer and others at the meeting, we won't see much investing or M&A activity until after the stock market digests the quarterly financial reports and outlooks of public tech companies in January.

Only then will private equity investors know how much the credit crunch will hit the market value of those companies, which in turn help set the valuations for startups.

Once the impact is clearer, fund managers will have no choice but to start putting money back to work, Buyer says, because they get paid to beat their peers and the stock indexes, not to hold cash.

Until then, though, the amount of cash they hold could be depleted still further because of stock market declines and individual investor withdrawals.

According to numbers put together for the conference, the largest U.S. pension fund, Calpers, has lost 20% of its value from a year ago, while venture capital portfolios have lost as much as 40%. Three weeks ago, before the market bounced higher, Bloomberg reported that Calpers was down 25%.

Buyer also sees the IPO market starting to open up in the first half of next year, a timetable that's more hopeful than others we've heard recently .


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Consulting services for all aspects of the IPO process from designing deal structure  and banker selection process to transaction logistics through ongoing investor communications. Firm engages with a small number of select companies contemplating a public fund-raising.

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