Opportunities in Secondaries

In the latest episode of our Alternative Allocations podcast, Franklin Templeton Institute’s Tony Davidow discusses the secondaries market in private equities with Taylor Robinson, partner of Lexington Partners.

In the latest episode of the Alternative Allocations podcast series, I was joined by Taylor Robinson, partner of Lexington Partners. Taylor and I discussed the current market environment and the opportunities in the secondaries market. We began our discussion by describing what secondaries are, and the role they have in the private market ecosystem.

In a traditional private equity fund, a pension plan, endowment, foundation or family office commits capital to be invested over a period of time (typically seven to 10 years). They are limited partners in the fund (LPs). When the fund manager, general partner (GP), finds an attractive investment, capital is called from the LPs’ (capital calls) original commitment.

The LPs understand that these are long-term investments, but sometimes there are liquidity needs, and they seek a buyer of their ownership stake. These are referred to as a secondaries transaction since the original owner seeks a secondary buyer.

We discussed the extraordinary growth of the private markets and the challenges coming out of 2022. Taylor noted that, “. . . for the last 13 years, coming out of the financial crisis, allocators of capital had a decision to make, which was, where do I place my money to earn more attractive returns than public markets.”

In 2022, we began to see a dramatic slowdown of exits, meaning that many institutional investors who committed capital to private markets lacked liquidity. Because of the fall of most traditional investments, they were often overallocated to private markets, and needed to reallocate capital. This has created an environment where many large institutions are seeking liquidity.

Secondaries fund managers are uniquely positioned to provide liquidity, and can be selective in choosing assets, and the price they are willing to pay. Taylor stated that, “. . . the greatest investment opportunity typically comes when capital is hardest to find. That’s just the way markets function.”