Demystifying Private Markets

Business newspaper
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Ziad Mabsout
August 8, 2023
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Capital markets consist of two main segments: public markets and private markets. In contrast to public markets, where securities like stocks, bonds, REITs, and derivatives are traded on regulated exchanges, private markets encompass various asset classes that are not publicly listed. There are six main asset classes within private markets:

In these private markets, institutional investors can invest in companies or assets that are not available for public trading. For instance, Venture Capital and Private Equity funds invest in early-stage and fast-growing private companies, respectively. Private Real Estate involves investments in private properties, while Private Credit focuses on providing loans to private entities. Infrastructure investments cover essential projects like bridges, roads, and utilities.

What Differentiates Private Markets from Public Markets?

Private markets and public markets differ in terms of accessibility, investment stage, risk and return profiles, liquidity, regulation, and disclosure requirements. Each market type offers unique investment opportunities, catering to different risk appetites and investment objectives.

For instance, public markets are open to individual investors and the public, allowing them to buy and sell securities through stock exchanges. In contrast, private markets are more exclusive and typically cater to large institutional investors such as Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs), Pension Funds, Insurance Companies, and Family Offices.

It is important to keep in mind that private market assets are typically listed publicly when they are fully de-risked and fully priced. Private markets precede public markets, and as a result, they generally carry higher risk and potential for higher returns.

How Does This Impact My Portfolio Composition?

Stocks and bonds have been considered the fundamental components of a diversified investment portfolio, typically divided into 60% and 40% allocations, respectively. However, the merit of a 60-40 portfolio is being questioned due to increased correlation between stocks and bonds, limiting their effectiveness as a hedge against volatility.

Private market assets may provide more portfolio diversification and lower volatility than publicly listed securities.

01 Private Credit is positioned as a defensive investment through its income potential from floating rate loans, seniority in the capital stack which secures repayment priority in case of default and structure protection (covenants).

02 Private Equity diversification comes from its exposure to different market segments, its lower correlation with public markets, and the inclusion of unique risk factors such as operational risks, governance challenges, and specific industry dynamics that are not as prevalent in public markets.

03 Venture Capital investments typically invest in a diverse range of startups across various industries, reducing reliance on a single asset class or market segment.

04 Private Infrastructure Investments offer stable and predictable cash flows over the long term, making them attractive to investors seeking consistent returns amid economic uncertainties.

05 Private Real Estate is an effective hedge against inflation as leases are typically indexed to inflation and/or subject to regular rent reviews.

06 Natural Resources, such as timberland, agriculture, or mining projects, have a low correlation with traditional financial assets like stocks and bonds, offering a potential hedge against market downturns.

In conclusion, demystifying private markets reveals a world of exclusive investment opportunities with higher risk and potential for higher returns compared to public markets. Private assets, such as Venture Capital, Private Equity, Private Credit, Private Infrastructure, and Natural Resources, offer diversification benefits, lower volatility, stable cash flows, inflation-hedging properties, and unique risk factors not prevalent in public markets. Understanding the differentiators empowers investors to craft a well-balanced portfolio that includes the enticing realm of private markets, offering the prospect of resilience and growth to their investment journey.