Delegates at the fifth annual Oxford Private Equity Forum on 5 May 2009 debated whether private equity would fundamentally change as a result of the current financial crisis.
The Forum drew a large audience and an impressive group of professional and academic speakers. Jack Edmondson, Investment Director at Oxford University Endowment Management led a panel debate on how private equity can adjust to the current financial climate. While Ian Gomes, a Partner at KPMG, Tim Jenkinson, Professor of Finance at Saïd Business School, and Jonathan Young, Group CEO, Gryphon Holdings, led a session on emerging markets. Other panels debated the future of buyouts, private equity infrastructure and real estate investing, and the role of angel investors in paving the way for venture capital.
As might be expected, given the current state of financial markets, and the recent performance of many private equity funds, much of the debate revolved around the question of whether the private equity model would fundamentally change in the future. Views differed, but evolution rather than revolution seemed to be the majority view. Leverage, the size of deals, return expectations, the number of funds, and fees would all have to fall. But the ways that the best private equity funds created value would stand the test of time.