Secondaries deal volume sees blockbuster year

More than $70bn traded on the secondaries market last year, according to data from several advisory firms.

Deal volume hit another record high last year across various asset classes with as much as a 46 percent year-on-year rise.

Final data from Evercore and Setter Capital and preliminary data from Campbell Lutyens and Greenhill show there was between $70 billion and $79.7 billion in transaction volume in 2018.

Speaking at the IPEM conference in Cannes on Wednesday, Immanuel Rubin, a partner at Campbell Lutyens, said that his firm had recorded a preliminary estimate of $70 billion. This covers private equity and infrastructure deals.

Campbell Lutyens’ estimate for 2017 deal volume was $48 billion.

GP-led deals as a proportion of the total jumped to 38 percent from 28 percent year-on-year, he added.

2018 was a “fantastic year”, according to Carlo Pirzio-Biroli, managing partner and chief executive of Glendower Capital. “We think the market is very wide and varied in its transactions,” he added.

On a separate panel, Greenhill managing director Bernhard Engelien said that his firm’s provisional figure for transaction volume in 2018 was $75 billion, including real estate. The firm estimated that $58 billion traded in 2017. The figures break down as approximately $65 billion private equity, and $5 billion each of infrastructure and real estate, he added.

GP-led deals accounted for around 26 percent of deal volume last year, according to Engelien.

According to Evercore’s YE 2018 Secondary Market report released on Thursday, deal volume hit $72 billion last year, marking a 33 percent jump. The top six buyers accounted for half of last year’s volume, Evercore noted.

The average transaction size across all buyers surveyed was between $221 million and $258 million. LP positions accounted for 68 percent of volume while GP-led deals comprised 28 percent, according to Evercore.

Setter Capital, which includes hedge fund secondaries in its figures, had the highest estimate with almost $80 billion in trades, according to its Volume Report FY 2018, published Wednesday. Stakes in private equity funds rose almost 26 percent to $43.8 billion while real estate secondaries decreased 8.3 percent to $5.8 billion, according to the intermediary.

Discussing the Cambpell Lutyens figures, Marco Wulff, managing partner at Montana Capital Partners, said that the number of deals he saw last year was around 800, compared with usually 200 to 300.

Christophe Nicolas, co-head of AlpInvest Partners secondaries business for Europe and the Middle East, said he saw a “very high” volume of traditional LP portfolios last year.

“Usually August is a very quiet month for everybody in Europe. This [past] year I left for two weeks, I came back and looked at the transaction backlog. Instead of zero it was $10 billion,” Nicolas said.

While the number of deals coming through the pipeline was up, the firm’s rate of capital investment was about the same as last year as high prices encouraged caution, Nicolas added.