“Secondaries Investor: Notes from New York” by Adam Le featuring Shawn Schestag

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Secondaries Investor has been in the Big Apple this week talking to market participants. Here’s how things look from North America.

1 LP side letters are eating away at secondaries funds’ dealflow

Limited partners are increasingly giving their secondaries managers side letters – customised agreements altering the terms of governing documents – which can include lists of funds they’d like to buy into and asking managers to show them deals that arise. As recently as five years ago, secondaries firms and funds of funds were only competing with other dedicated buyers, but now LPs are making the landscape more competitive.

“Everyone wants to do secondaries now,” a managing director at one investment firm told me. “Every fund of funds, every insurance company, every pension fund, every family office has a side letter saying they want to see secondaries, as well as co-investments.”

2 Greater diversification in portfolios is pushing pricing higher

In recent years, most portfolios holding between 10 and 20 funds would be broken up among as many as five buyers. In the last 12 to 18 months, the same portfolios have been bought by a single buyer who is willing to pay more for greater diversity and lower risk, according to Phil Tsai, global head of secondaries advisory at UBS.

Greater diversification also means it’s easier for potential buyers to use acquisition financing, Tsai said. This is driving higher pricing.

3 The advisory space is becoming more crowded

Advisors in the larger end of the market have been busy grabbing and defending market share, and the lower end, which traditionally had lower barriers to entry, is becoming more sophisticated. New entrants to this space have to bring a different level of expertise to the table, Shawn Schestag, who leads advisory firm and placement agent Sixpoint Partners’ secondaries business, told me.

Sixpoint Partners, LLC, is a registered broker/dealer, member FINRA (http://www.finra.org) and SIPC (http://www.sipc.org).