But if private equity (PE) investors have been bothered by the uncertainty, it hasn’t showed. Despite the building turmoil, 2016 marked the third year in a row that the Asia-Pacific PE industry has performed at historic or near-historic levels—a sign that PE performance in the region is increasingly dependent on the industry’s unique set of fundamentals. Private equity deal value in the Asia-Pacific region reached $92 billion in 2016, a pullback from 2015’s all-time high of $124 billion, but the second-best year on record (see Figure 1.1). Exit activity of $74 billion was respectable, and average returns continued to outperform other asset classes, especially among a set of top-tier firms that produced world-class results.
Fund-raising of $43 billion slightly trailed the five-year average, but that’s unsurprising given the amount of money poured into these markets over the last several years. General partners (GPs) are working with near-record levels of unspent capital, and investors appear to be waiting for funds to work off some of that dry powder before renewing commitments. What’s important in terms of gauging investment confidence is that the maturing Asia-Pacific industry has locked in on the virtuous capital cycle: Limited partners (LPs) have been cash-positive in the region over the past few years, meaning GPs continue to find ways to return more capital to investors than they are drawing down for new investments. All signs indicate that LPs remain bullish on the market.
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