“What will private equity look like in five years?” To answer the
most abstract question on the agenda for the world’s leading private
equity conference — in Berlin this year — we tried phoning a friend
(“Huh?”) and shaking a Magic 8-Ball (“It is certain”). Thankfully,
Steven Kaplan, a finance professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth
School of Business, was also free to chat. He likens private equity in
2007 to venture capital in 2000: Both industries hit record highs in
the U.S. right before a market crash. VC bounced back from the dotcom
downfall within five years, and many people assume that private-equity
commitments, which in 2008 plummeted 26% to $181 billion, will follow
suit. “It will be a smaller industry,” predicts Kaplan, “but not by
much.” — DM
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