Investors Want to Allocate More to Emerging Markets

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  • Posted on April 18, 2011


    BANGALORE — Emerging markets will capture an even greater share of investor allocations to private equity as limited partners aggressively seek exposure to high-growth markets such as India, China and Brazil, a new global survey has found.

    At least half of the surveyed partners that invest in private equity funds expect returns of over 16% over the next three to five years in emerging markets. Nearly a quarter of the participants expect returns of over 21%.

    A typical investor will have 16% to 20% of its total fund allocated to emerging markets in 2013, compared with 11% to 15% now, according to the latest Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPEA)/Coller Capital Emerging Markets Private Equity Survey, based on a review of 156 private equity investors in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

    “Institutional investors facing escalating liabilities within the next 5-10 years find growth opportunities in emerging markets very compelling,” said Sarah Alexander, president and chief executive, EMPEA. “While China and India still top LP wish lists, investors are also shifting their gazes to the less penetrated markets of Latin America and Southeast Asia.”

    PE Trends in Emerging Economies

    Increasing Interest

    Brazil is now seen as the most attractive market for deal making in the near term for general partners, pushing China into the second place. Brazil will also gain the largest influx of new investors as 14% of limited partners plan to invest there. The nascent Asian private equity markets are now perceived to be as attractive as China, and will see increased investment from both current and new investors, the report said.

    Returns of as much as 16% are achievable in the right investment environment if general partners can get their portfolio companies to scale up fast and in line with a given economic growth, said Erwin Roex, partner, Coller Capital.

    “Expecting returns of over 20%, I find, is very aggressive,” he said. “Such returns would mean consistent performance over a very long period of time. Specific GPs can achieve that but to expect entire PE portfolios to give 21% returns may be a bit wishful.”

    According to the report, while competition is increasing in emerging markets, it tends to be concentrated within a handful of sectors or a particular tier of the market where deals are large enough to attract global funds.

    “Investors recognize there are still plenty of opportunities for skilled managers to supply value-added capital and to create returns for limited partners,” Mr. Roex said.

    While limited partners are comparatively bullish on fund returns in emerging markets, investors’ return expectations for an individual fund market vary, depending on whether they have exposure there or not.

    According to the report, environmental, social and governance considerations materially impact general partners’ selection for two-thirds of emerging market private equity investors. As many as 22% of them have investment mandates directly restricted by these issues.

    “The fact that such a large number of limited partners are factoring these considerations into their manager selection decisions signals the link increasingly being drawn between manager focus on these issues at the portfolio company level and the ability to create value and generate stronger returns,” Ms. Alexander said.

    Limited partners said political risk was a major deterrent to investing in Russia, West Asia, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. High entry valuations are the biggest hurdle for new investors in India, China and Brazil, they said.

    The Wall Street Journal/AC

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