Private equity – the alternative industry

01 June 2020 by National Bank Investments
NBI Monthly

Buzz terms like “venture capital” or “leveraged buyouts” may seem familiar to seasoned professionals. Though these expressions ring a bell, their meaning may actually seem more complex than we’d hope they’d be.

The mechanics of private equity have been foreign to many individual investors for years. This seemingly exclusive investment category has historically opened their doors to sophisticated or institutional clientele, building a reputation for dramatically increasing the value of their investments.

When you finally manage to parse apart the intricate components of its process, you’ll find that private equity simply relates to the private ownership interest in a private asset, which oftentimes tends to take the shape of a company.

What does a private equity investment look like and how does it work?

The primary objective could be to bring about operational change, which would contribute to a company’s ability to scale successfully. It could also help finance an acquisition or even provide the support needed to delist a company that wants to focus on long-term growth strategies without the fuss of filing public quarterly earnings.

It often starts with a private equity firm taking ownership interest in a company. The private equity firm provides needed capital, new ideas and, in some cases, fresh leadership with innovative ways of thinking.

The goal for the private equity firm is to “exit” these investments, ultimately achieving a profit to redistribute back to the investors that committed capital.

An alternative industry

A private equity investment qualifies as an alternative investment. For institutions, this is nothing new as their allocation to these types of investments have been growing for over a decade now.

Canada’s pension plans growing allocation toprivate equity (PE)


Examples of recent private equity moves include the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s commitment of $50 million to a startup ride sharing company, or the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan launching a venture to build new digital businesses.

Private equity at work

Private equity in Canada has grown rapidly, creating more than 240,000 jobs across the country.¹ Since 2015, over $90 billion has been invested in companies providing these privately held companies the ability to focus entirely on this crucial goal: making their business better.

The benefits of private equity are already hard at work. There is a compelling case as the easing of access to this type of investment is slowly gaining traction within many investor portfolios. The industry is clearly adapting to provide a myriad of investors, large and small, access to private equity’s risk/reward profile.



Legal notes

1. Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, “Private Equity: The Enginethat fuels Canada’s Growth”. January 27, 2020.

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