With the increasing trend toward sector-specific funds, the word "generalist" had become something of a no-no in private equity. Many naysayers predicted that the generalist fund would not survive the downturn. The common wisdom was that the only way for private equity funds to make it in the new world was to be industry-focused and experts in specific sectors. However, based on a good number of funds raised recently, it looks as if generalist funds may be making a comeback. LPs still believe it's okay not to be ultra-focused on a few sectors, as long as you can show strong returns and have proven methods that generate solid results. In fact, 67 percent of fund managers indicated that track record is the most important factor when LPs evaluate funds, according to the fourth annual PErspective Private Equity study conducted by BDO USA LLP.
On the larger end of the market, in February, New York-based TowerBrook Capital Partners LP closed TowerBrook Investors IV with $3.5 billion. TowerBrook invests in many different sectors, seeking companies that are contrarian by nature or are very complex, in hopes of scaring away the competition. On the smaller end of the market, River Associates Investments LLC was able to close its latest fund, River VI, with $222 million in commitments, which was twice as large as River V. Additionally, the firm added new LPs, a coup in today's stiffer fundraising environment.