Partners Group: Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Partners Group ("PG"), a Swiss based PE manager, initiated a series of strategic shifts and evolved from a predominately fund-of-funds manager into a large, multi-asset class PE firm focused on direct investments. PG was the first PE firm to go public in 2006. A number of large US based private equity firms followed to create a new category of firms; public private equity firms (PPEs). PG's results were superlative (565% since inception total return and 22% annual compounded growth) versus the US based PPEs performance over the same time of (76%) to 18%. PG's multiple was 22x versus their PPE peer group of 8x. PG had the lowest value of AUM yet had the second largest market capitalization behind Blackstone. Why? PG had differing management practices: (i) compensation practices; (ii) corporate governance structure; (iii) accounting policies; and (iv) source of revenues. PG historically had a low percentage of its revenues derived from carried interest payments (less than 10%) while the US PPEs had a significantly higher percentage (on average 50%). Should PG do more direct investments and have more of its revenues come from carried interests? This could conceivably jeopardize their trading multiple and their stock price. Should PG risk changing their business model or proceed with confidence?