On the real effects of private equity
Private equity has become an increasingly important part of our economy. Around the world the companies owned by private equity investors account for a substantial percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and private sector employment. These investors have recently been under fire in the media when they takeover companies. Private equity investors are at best seen as ‘kings of capitalism’ and at worst as ‘barbarians’ and ‘weapons of mass destruction’. The first part of this address contrasts this negative press with what we know about the real effects of private equity from academic studies. In general, private equity seems to be more negatively written about in the media then is warranted based on recent empirical evidence. However, as this address will show the jury is still out on a large number of issues that deserve further attention.
One of the issues we know surprisingly little about is the real effects of private equity. Although policy-makers are extremely wary of buy-outs, they tend to welcome venture capital investments. They believe that venture capital helps to close the funding gap faced by small high-growth companies that banks are reluctant to finance. The second part of this address discusses recent research that investigates the impact of private equity on the creation of new businesses in Europe. We find that private equity positively impacts the number of start-up firms at the country and industry level. Especially the availability of venture capital to finance these new ventures has a positive impact on new business creation, as many European policymakers assume.