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16.12.2020 132

Private markets: a strong value proposition that may emerge reinforced after the crisis

Published December 16, 2020

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THE ESSENTIAL


  • Private markets: The Covid-19 crisis has caused significant disruption in private markets, but investor appetite for real assets stays unabated. Fundraising will be supported by abundant liquidity. Selectivity and diversification will be key and only the best quality assets should be considered. Real assets are a portfolio diversifier and volatility dampener. Given their long-term nature, investors should not rush tactically into these assets and be selective in order to capture the different premiums embedded in real asset investing.
  • Private equity: In the private equity market valuations have fallen relatively little, with divergences among sectors. Despite the disruption, 2020 has been an active year for the industry. In the coming months, we should see an acceleration in corporate consolidations, as structured equity can help entrepreneurs get through the crisis. Performances of private equity funds should emerge stronger from the crisis. Money has been funneling into the asset class from long-term investors, such as pension funds, and this trend should continue in 2021.
  • Private debt: Investment opportunities should flourish for private debt funds in the next months. For issuers, we expect the Covid-19 crisis to create opportunities in M&A and consolidation. Also, balance sheets’ re-leveraging will require indebtedness rescheduling, where private debt’s bullet profile could emerge as a critical tool. Today, the private debt market is much larger than it was at the time of the GFC, and there is a lot of dry powder. With such an abundant capital available, selectivity will be key. We expect a flight to quality, with people investing in safer strategies, more senior, more secured, and in asset-based financing. Diversification in geography and sector will be paramount, together with investing at the top of the capital structure, where risk-adjusted returns are the most attractive.
  • Real estate: Global commercial real estate markets saw a decline in deal activity as of September 2020 and fund raising experienced a sharp drop in Q3 2020. Such repricing could attract new commitments, while the flight to quality should continue, benefitting core assets and properties whose tenants boast strong balance sheets. So far, repricing has hit risky assets, and we expect the revival of a scale of value among properties driven by location, tenant’s financial robustness, and asset’s intrinsic features. Despite a rise in Q3 2020, office vacancy rates remain low in the central business districts of the main European markets, limiting the impact on rents. The office sector should refocus on core assets and remain relatively unscathed for the best quality assets. Remote working could accelerate, but without disputing that working from the office drives corporate culture, brand and team-building. Logistics has benefited from high e-commerce activity, with a greater need for industrial warehousing and logistics properties, although a multichannel retailing strategy should become the norm. The hotel industry could suffer the effects of the crisis for longer.
  • Infrastructure: we see divergences between sectors in terms of deal activity and valuation. The high level of dry powder is smoothing deal activity in ‘safe-haven’ sectors such as health, technology or renewables, where a stable number of transactions is happening. In the most affected sectors there might be opportunities at discount prices, whereas we might see some pricier assets in health or technology. Overall, valuations should stay flattish. Buy-and-hold strategies are gaining traction. We believe diversification will be key to deliver stable returns. The Covid-19 crisis should lead to a supportive political and regulatory environment, as the pandemic has emphasized the need for communication and social infrastructures, but also for more renewable energy. Infrastructure projects should be a key component of most governmental stimulus plans.

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