Bridge over ocean
4 December 2018 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 75, Issue 1

The Returns to Private Debt: Primary Issuances vs. Secondary Acquisitions

  1. Douglas Cumming, CFA
  2. Grant Fleming
  3. Zhangxin (Frank) Liu

Private debt fund managers invest in debt positions of private companies through (1) new issuances or (2) secondary acquisition of loans. In the study reported here, we used data from more than 400 investments into private companies in 13 Asia-Pacific markets between 2001 and 2015 to examine which strategy performs best. Conditional on market and industry factors, trading private debt delivers higher returns than buying and holding a primary issuance. So, institutional investors should permit fund managers investment flexibility to trade. Furthermore, a portfolio of private debt investments delivers excess returns to public markets over time, with excess returns affected by volatility, funding liquidity, and the global financial crisis. An investment in Asia-Pacific private debt should improve risk-adjusted returns for a global or emerging market fixed-income portfolio.

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