Alex Belyakov, Finance, The Wharton School
Abstract: Empirical analysis of a sample of companies with private equity (PE) ownership in the UK shows that PE firms act as deep-pocket investors for their portfolio companies, rescuing them if they fall in financial distress. In contrast, external financing is expensive for companies without PE-ownership in financial distress. The paper builds a model that shows how companies form rational expectations about the costs of financial distress, and how these expectations affect ex-ante policies. The model explains the empirically-observed differences in how companies with and without PE-ownership invest, pay dividends, and issue debt. In particular, the model quantitatively explains the difference in leverage of companies with and without PE-ownership. The model shows that greater tax-shield benefits and superior growth of PE-backed companies can explain 6.4% of the abnormal return of PE firms. The conclusion that follows from the paper, however, is that abnormal returns PE firms cannot be replicated by other investors.