Beyond the J Curve: Managing a Portfolio of Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds by Thomas Meyer, Pierre-Yves Mathonet

Beyond the J Curve: Managing a Portfolio of Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds by Thomas Meyer, Pierre-Yves Mathonet
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Beyond the J Curve:

Managing a Portfolio of Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds

by Thomas Meyer, Pierre-Yves Mathonet

In recent times, venture capital and private equity funds have become household names, but so far little has been written for the investors in such funds, the so-called limited partners. There is far more to the management of a portfolio of venture capital and private equity funds than usually perceived. Beyond the J Curve describes an innovative toolset for such limited partners to design and manage portfolios tailored to the dynamics of this market place, going far beyond the typical and often-simplistic recipe to ¡®go for top quartile funds¡¯.

Beyond the J Curve provides the answers to key questions, including:

Why ¡®top-quartile¡¯ promises should be taken with a huge pinch of salt and what it takes to select superior fund managers?

What do limited partners need to consider when designing and managing portfolios?

How one can determine the funds¡¯ economic value to help addressing the questions of ¡®fair value¡¯ under IAS 39 and ¡®risk¡¯ under Basel II or Solvency II?

Why is monitoring important, and how does a limited partner manage his portfolio?

How the portfolio¡¯s returns can be improved through proper liquidity management and what to consider when over-committing?

And, why uncertainty rather than risk is an issue and how a limited partner can address and benefit from the fast changing private equity environment?

Beyond the J Curve takes the practitioner¡¯s view and offers private equity and venture capital professionals a comprehensive guide making high return targets more realistic and sustainable. This book is a must have for all parties involved in this market, as well as academic and students.


DR THOMAS MEYER studied computer science at the Bundeswehr Universitat in Munich followed by doctoral studies at the University of Trier. He also holds an MBA from the London Business School. After 12 years in the German Air Force he worked for the German insurance group Allianz AG in Corporate Finance and M&A with particular focus on Japan, and as the regional Chief Financial Officer of Allianz Asia Pacific in Singapore. Over the last years Thomas has been responsible for the creation of the European Investment Fund's risk management function. The focus of his work is the development of valuation and risk management models and investment strategies for venture capital fund-of-funds.

PIERRE-YVES MATHONET holds a Master of Science cum laude in Finance from London Business School and a Master of Science magna cum laude in Management from Solvay Business School, Brussels. He is also a Certified European Financial Analyst.

He worked as an investment banker in the technology groups of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) and Credit Suisse First Boston, and previously, for the audit and consulting departments of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He is currently heading the venture capital activities within the Risk Management and Monitoring division of the European Investment Fund.

Together, as risk managers, the authors are responsible for a portfolio of nearly two hundred private equity funds with more than 2.5 billion committed and almost 5 billion under management.


List of Boxes. Acknowledgements.



1. Introduction.

1.1 Routes into private equity.

1.2 The limited partner¡¯s viewpoint.

1.3 The challenge of venture capital fund valuation.

1.4 Hard figures or gut instinct?

1.5 Managing with fuzzy figures.

1.6 Making the grades.

1.7 Outline.

2. Private Equity Market.

2.1 Funds as intermediaries.

2.2 The problem of predicting success.

2.3 Broad segmentation of investment universe.

2.4 Private equity market dynamics.

2.5 Conclusion.

3. Private Equity Fund Structure.

3.1 Key features.

3.2 Conflicts of interest.

3.3 Finding the balance.

4. Buyout and Venture Capital Fund Differences.

4.1 Differences between venture capital and buyouts.

5. Funds-of-funds.

5.1 Structure.

5.2 Value added.

5.3 Costs.

5.4 Private equity investment programme.


5A.1 Payout schedules.


6. Investment Process.

6.1 Key performance drivers.

6.2 Process description.

6.3 Risk management.

6.4 Tackling uncertainty.

7 Risk Framework.

7.1 Market value.

7.2 Market or credit risk?

7.3 Conclusion.

8. Portfolio Design.

8.1 Portfolio design framework.

8.2 Portfolio construction techniques.

8.3 Risk¨Creturn management approaches.

9. Case Study.

9.1 Looking for the optimal programme size.

9.2 Overcoming entry barriers: long-term strategies.

10. The Management of Liquidity.

10.1 Liquidity management problem.

10.2 Liquidity management approaches.

10.3 Investment strategies for undrawn capital.

10.4 Cash flow projections.

10.5 Conclusion.


11. Established Approaches to Fund Valuation.

11.1 Bottom-up approach to private equity fund valuation.

11.2 Inconsistency of valuations.

11.3 NAVs do not tell the full picture.

11.4 Portfolio companies cannot be valued in isolation.

11.5 Conclusion.

12. Benchmarking.

12.1 Specific issues.

12.2 Individual funds.

12.3 Portfolio of funds.

13. A Prototype Internal Grading System.

13.1 Grading of private equity funds.

13.2 The NAV is not enough.

13.3 Existing approaches.

13.4 New approach to internal fund-grading system.

13.5 Summary¡ªNAV- and grading-based valuation.

13.6 Discussion.

13.7 Conclusion.

Appendix 13A.

14. Fund Manager Selection Process.

14.1 Relevance of fund manager selection.

14.2 Why due diligence?

14.3 The due diligence process.

14.4 Fund manager selection process.

14.5 Decision and commitment.

15. Qualitative Fund Scoring.

15.1 Scoring approach.

15.2 Scoring dimensions.

16. Grading-based Economic Model.

16.1 Approach.

16.2 Internal age adjustment.

16.3 Private equity fund IRR projections.

16.4 Expected portfolio returns.

16.5 Discussion.

16.6 Conclusion.

17. Private Equity Fund Discount Rate.

17.1 The capital asset pricing model.

17.2 Private equity fund betas.

17.3 The alternatives to the capital asset pricing model.

17.4 Summary.


18. Monitoring.

18.1 Approach to monitoring.

18.2 The monitoring objectives.

18.3 Information gathering.

18.4 Evaluation.

18.5 Actions.

19. Case Study: Saving Your Investments¡ªApproaches to Restructuring.

19.1 The valley of tears.

19.2 The report to the board.

19.3 The terms of the restructuring.

19.4 Epilogue.

20. Secondary Transactions.

20.1 Sellers and their motivations.

20.2 Buyers and their motivations.

20.3 Secondary market prices.

20.4 Transactional issues.

20.5 The fund manager perspective.


21. Deviating from Top funds.

21.1 Strategic investments.

21.2 Policy objectives.

22. Real Options.

22.1 Real options in private equity.

22.2 Real option analysis.

22.3 An expanded strategy and decision framework.

23. Beyond the J-curve.

23.1 Some do it better.

23.2 Deadly sins.

23.3 Structure instead of ¡°gut instinct¡±.

23.4 Patience is a virtue.

23.5 Turning water into wine.