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Pension Funds Play Private Equity Firms

It’s not just hedge funds that have been acting like private equity firms: Some major pension funds are getting in on the action as well.

It’s not just hedge funds that have been acting like private equity firms: Some major pension funds are getting in on the action as well. The New York TimesDealbook reports that some pension funds are bidding against p.e. firms in auctions or joining them, not as investors, but as limited partners in consortiums. The Times cites the recent US$18.9 billion purchase of Heathrow Airport operator BAA by a group that included Caisse de depot et placement du Québec, and the Blackstone Group’s move to raise $1 billion directly from pension funds for its $17.6 billion acquisition of Freescale Semiconductor. The benefits are clear for the pensions – skirting the 20% standard performance fee – as well as for the p.e. firms. One p.e. exec asked the Times, “Who wants to put up with the aggravation of a consortium of my competitors when I can just get my money from my limited partners?” Still, there are questions about the efficacy of funds making direct investments and some eyebrows raised by the fact that some pension funds are giving their managers a piece of the action.

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