Investors declare Asia the next private equity theatre

Colliers Capital poll places India at the forefront of private equity hit-lists.

Asia is ranked as the main source of attraction to private equity investors according to a new Colliers Capital global private equity barometer. Leading the pack is India with nearly four out of five investors attesting to its allure.

Greater China throws in a typically solid performance, in favour with approximately three quarters of investors. South East Asia has also tiptoed back into the spotlight after several years offstage, with 60% of investors poised with cheque books ready.

India remains a magnet: with seemingly every fund manager pinpointing the country and delivering a thumbs-up for the sub-continent. Asked why they would feel nervous about an Asian investment, the most revealing number is that only 20% said they were apprehensive because they had been burned by a bad experience with emerging markets before.(Where were they in the 1990s?)

Almost 80% said they were hesitant because there was a lack of credible private equity fund managers. On the face of it then, these figures almost look like a harbinger of doom, with investors feeling uncomfortable with the private equity managers, but yet whose country selections imply an appetite for hard-to-decipher risk.

Currently, a quarter of investors have commitments to emerging-market funds. Twice that number say they are going to increase that amount in the next three years.

This survey revealed that appetite for new deals is increasing in the arena of private equity. Some 44% of institutions are now scheduling increased allocations to private-equity funds. That is an increase from 30% six months ago.

At the same time, only three out of 10 envisage injecting more funds into hedge funds. That is a drop of 20% in six months.

Whilst that looks ostensibly alarming, what we have to remember here is that the pollsters are focusing on private-equity money, so by default its not necessary to infer that allocations to hedge funds in general will fall.

Nevertheless, hedge funds have recently been eye-balling the private equity space enviously. This poll suggests that investors may prefer to place their long-term bets with managers who have a track record in venture capital, rather than with hedge funds who are trying to re-invent themselves from their traditionally shorter-term attention span.

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