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The Pursuit of Liquidity Management on the Secondary Market

Neil Campbell, Head
Alternative Investments
May 2011

World financial markets are back at or ahead of levels last seen in 2008 before the credit bubble burst. This surge has somewhat eased the liquidity woes of hedge funds and private equity managers, as well as their investors. The question now is how much more is there to go?

By industry estimates, we have only scratched the surface ó over $100 billion worth of impaired assets remain, despite the market rise. Tens of billions of dollars, for instance, are still log jammed in side pockets ó special liquidating vehicles and their ilk devised in late 2008 in response to spooked investors and parched financial markets. What lingers in these constructs is quixotically marked and arguably, didnít really belong there in the first place. Chances for quick exits here remain elusive and could prove disappointing for general partners and investors alike.

From late 2010 however, mega buyout private equity funds and a handful of venture capital names appear to have turned a corner, at least for now. Thanks to the rebounding initial public offering market, prospects for asset-level exits look upbeat for the first time in over two years. Not surprisingly, GPs are upping their marks, some quite meaningfully, for the final three months of 2010. For limited partners seeking liquidity, there is good news as pricing has risen to par or premium. So it certainly makes a lot more sense to sell now than it did during the prevailing lows in 2009 and most of 2010.

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