Private Equity and Alternative Invesment
In finance, private equity is an asset class consisting of equity securities and debt in operating companies that are not publicly traded on a stock exchange.
A private equity investment will generally be made by a private equity firm, a venture capital firm or an angel investor. Each of these categories of investor has its own set of goals, preferences and investment strategies; however, all provide working capital to a target company to nurture expansion, new-product development, or restructuring of the company’s operations, management, or ownership.
Bloomberg Businessweek has called private equity a rebranding of leveraged-buyout firms after the 1980s. Common investment strategies in private equity include: leveraged buyouts, venture capital, growth capital, distressed investments and mezzanine capital. In a typical leveraged-buyout transaction, a private-equity firm buys majority control of an existing or mature firm. This is distinct from a venture-capital or growth-capital investment, in which the investors (typically venture-capital firms or angel investors) invest in young, growing or emerging companies, and rarely obtain majority control.
Private equity is also often grouped into a broader category called private capital, generally used to describe capital supporting any long-term, illiquid investment strategy.
It is an investment in asset classes other than stocks, bonds, and cash. The term is a relatively loose one and includes tangible assets such as precious metals, art, wine, antiques, coins, or stamps and some financial assets such as real estate, commodities, private equity, distressed securities, hedge funds, carbon credits, venture capital, film production and financial derivatives. Investments in real estate and forestry are also often termed alternative despite the ancient use of such real assets to enhance and preserve wealth. Alternative investments are to be contrasted with traditional investments.
There is a wide variety of literature on alternative investments; however, this term has been used broadly and can also refer to financial alternatives such as derivatives or other alternatives such as energy. It is difficult to find research on the investment characteristics of tangible alternatives such as art or wine due primarily to a lack of good quality data. The Goizueta Business School at Emory University has established the Emory Center for Alternative Investments to provide research and a forum for discussion regarding private equity, hedge fund, and venture capital investments.