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The fiscal cliff and private equity

November 28, 2012: 3:55 PM ET


Private equity execs don't (yet) seem too worried about the fiscal cliff.

FORTUNE -- I was on CNBC Squawk Box this morning to discuss what the fiscal cliff means for private equity.  Drum roll... It doesn't mean all that much.

No examples of private equity firms hoarding money or instructing portfolio companies to do so. Moreover, private equity's long-term nature means that it could better survive a fall off the cliff than could most other asset classes (although, of course, a shock recession would harm IRRs – and take a particular bite out of fundraising efforts).

Instead, the real issue for private equity surrounds taxes. It's hard to see how carried interest, for example, wouldn't get sucked into a package of loophole eliminations. That means PE pro taxes would rise, although most PE pros have been expecting that for a while (and mentally accepted it, even if they disagree with the policy). The other tax issue is an expected increase in capital gains rates, which seems almost certain whether or not there is a deal worked out by January 1. That's why we're beginning to see a flurry of deals and deal closures (particularly on the PE sell-side).

I also got asked for the year's big PE winners and losers. Hadn't expected the question, but my gut reaction was that Advent International was a big winner. Raised the largest post-crisis fund, and did so extremely quickly (without having to make major fee concessions to CalPERS, etc.). Didn't get to a loser, but it has to be Bain Capital. Not the firm's fault, but clearly the Romney candidacy wasn't good for Bain's public reputation.

Video below:

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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