Securitizations of private equity interests held by pensions look like they may become reality this year, potentially broadening the effective investor base for private equity and helping to alleviate liquidity issues at pension funds, who are among the biggest investor segments in private equity.
This should be good news for the market. Once one large pension begins to divest in the capital markets, others are much more likely to follow. That should ease the fundraising challenges so many GPs are facing, as new investment capital frees up. Insurers have already come to market with these instruments. Pension funds following would be a pretty big boon to liquidity.
This also means Private Funds CFO could be writing about them more. Which is great! But much of our readership are (human) CFOs, many of whom are becoming interested in (security) CFOs, and I fear this won’t be the last time I have to make this terrible distinction.
Even the Fund Finance Association has reportedly fallen victim to the issue. A recently held webinar for (human) PE CFOs interested in fund finance attracted a crowd of fund financiers interested in CFOs (the securities), I’m told.
More importantly, the acronym lends itself too readily to a facile association with collateralized debt obligations. For one, PE CFOs (the securities) are distinctly not securitizations of debt, but securitizations of equity interests.
And the term CDOs is like a fragrant madeleine to many skeptics of financial engineering, whisking them back to the financial crisis, when CDOs, and derivatives of CDOs, vastly magnified the risk exposures to the then profoundly faulty mortgage market.
Private equity is already in the wary public eye in the current economic conditions. And news organizations have already tried to make a frightening connection between CFOs (the securities) and CDOs.
Let me suggest a neutral term; one more aligned with the risk-transferring, liquidity-providing securitization types that still thrive today: Fund interest ABS. Or, for the sake of shorter headlines, Fund ABS.
It’s easy to say, it would to make my life a ton easier, and also, come on, say it out loud: FABS.
Please: adopt it. Please.