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Rewarding risk-taking or skill? The case of private equity fund managers

Axel Buchner and Niklas Wagner ()

Journal of Banking & Finance, 2017, vol. 80, issue C, 14-32

Abstract: We examine whether typical private equity fund compensation contracts reward excessive risk-taking rather than managerial skill. Our analysis is based on a novel model of investment value, cash flows, and fee dynamics of private equity funds. Given the embedded option-like fee components, our results demonstrate that fund managers indeed have an incentive for excessive risk-taking when only fee income from the current fund is considered. However, when managers also consider potential compensation from follow-on funds, their risk-taking incentives depend on their individual skill levels, and skilled managers will have an incentive to reduce fund risk. We also show that managers must generate substantial abnormal returns in order to compensate investors for the given fee components.

Keywords: Fund manager compensation; Risk-taking incentives; Managerial skill; Abnormal return; Private equity; Buyout funds (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G13 G23 G24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:14-32