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Secondary market update: coming out of hibernation

With June valuations now out and expectations of a distressed wave having failed to materialise, secondary market activity is finally showing signs of picking up. Denise Ko Genovese catches up with Rede Partners' Adam Turtle to discuss current trends

The secondaries market has been notably quiet for much of the year as buyers and sellers paused for breath during lockdown. There was much anticipation for valuations to come out in May; but as Q2 came to pass, the market consensus appeared to be that waiting another quarter would be the sensible course of action, with many GPs taking the time to do their own valuations and rethink projections and business plans.

"At the start of lockdown there was a valuation mismatch that was unbridgeable, and processes were paused," says Adam Turtle, a partner at advisory firm Rede Partners. "There was very little visibility in general and many thought the situation would be similar to that of 2009, when a wave of forced sellers brought positions to market. But the distressed opportunities that people were looking for haven't materialised because there isn't a liquidity issue."

A key driver behind the 2009 crisis was indeed liquidity, which is very different to the situation markets have faced this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, the universe of buyers is now much wider than it was a few years ago and even if a good-quality fund stake came to market at a deep discount, the number of people bidding would automatically push up the price, says Turtle. The days of deep distress in the secondaries market have likely passed, he says.

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