August 16, 2012

Private Equity Valuations: Standards and Recent Developments

Brett D. Jaffe and Oliver S. Haker – August 16, 2012

It has been widely reported that in late 2011, several leading private equity funds received informal inquiry letters from the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). G. Zuckerman, "SEC Launches Inquiry Aimed at Private Equity," Wall St. J.,Feb. 11, 2012; P. Lattman, "Private Equity Industry Attracts S.E.C. Scrutiny," N.Y. Times, Feb. 12, 2012. Although these informal inquiry letters were broad in their scope (as is often the case in such inquiries), the SEC staff is understood to have requested production of documents concerning the valuation of private equity fund assets, the manner in which those valuations are reported, and details of agreements between the private equity fund and third-party valuation service providers. Such requests suggest a concern among regulators about the manner in which the funds that comprise the $1.2 trillion private equity industry value their investments and present performance data to current and prospective investors. In light of the SEC's focus on private equity valuation, as well as a number of private civil litigations directed to the issue, it is worth considering the standards governing the valuation of private equity assets and recent developments in the law on those valuations.

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