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How GPs Can Avoid ‘Secondary Fatigue’

The CFO of a mid-market buyout fund recently told me how disillusioned he was with the secondary sale process. He had spent hours on diligence calls to help an investor sell his position in the fund, only to later discover that the sale had collapsed. He felt that he had wasted his time and was suffering from “secondary fatigue.”

Q&A With a Secondaries Buyer: “We’re Making Specific Bets on Companies”

Following last week’s interview with secondaries intermediary, Colin McGrady of Cogent Partners, here is the other side of the coin: A Q&A with the buyside. I’ve spoken with David Tom, a Vox Populi contributor and investment pro at VCFA Group, a buyer of middle market secondary interests in LBO, mezzanine and VC funds.

Will Q4 numbers make much of a difference in valuations?

I think they will. Not that we’re pricing off of the GP’s valuations, but investment committees and sellers will. So if we’re telling them to take a loss, it’s different than the fund manager telling them to take a loss. It’s true that we don’t care what the GP’s valuation is, but it helps negotiating a deal. Deals can collapse when it gets to the investment committee. Either way, we won’t get Q4 numbers until February or so.

Does that give you an incentive to wait to do any deals?

From our perspective, we’re still going to do the work, but we’re realistic in it taking longer to close deals.

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