Associate Research Analyst
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Secondary market volume has grown from $37 billion in 2016 to a high of $132 billion in 2021. Despite macroeconomic instability, 2022 was still the second-highest year on record at $108 billion. The secondary market was initially dominated by LPs in need of liquidity, selling at a significant discount. Today, the secondary market is more institutionalized and the reasons for selling on the secondary market have expanded — only 10% of sellers are selling for liquidity reasons, while 64% of deals are done for portfolio management. The increase in GP-led transactions has also added to secondary market volume.
As the secondary market has grown significantly, the space has become increasingly undercapitalized. As shown in the top chart above, the ratio of dry powder to deal volume has steadily declined over the last several years, excluding 2020 when COVID hit deal volume. There is estimated to be only about one year of dry powder available to support the growing supply in the secondary market, well below the ratio in the buyout market. The limited amount of capital relative to secondary market volume has resulted in deals trading at significant discounts, as shown in the lower chart. Buyers can be more selective and have the opportunity to purchase high quality assets at a discount. From here, while there are still challenges given the level of macro uncertainty, there is a clear opportunity for investors active in the secondary market.
Print PDF > Secondaries Not So Secondary Anymore
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