Abstract

A 2005 EVCA survey highlighted the large commitments made by family offices to private equity in Europe. This paper, developed jointly with EVCA, is an extensive clinical analysis of the private equity investment practices of the largest independent family offices in Europe. The objectives of the study are (1) to document the family offices’ structures and governance processes; (2) to investigate in detail the allocation process to various asset classes, in particular private equity; (3) to evaluate the family offices’ syndication and information gathering behaviors; and (4) to create a new typology of family offices better reflecting the drivers of their risk investment behavior. The key propositions of the paper are (1) that the families’ attitudes to risk, driven by strong cultures and investment philosophies, a multi-generational time horizon, broad networking abilities and an ability to move quickly in high uncertainty domains, leads to aggressive private equity allocations and sophisticated investment, syndication and control procedures; (2) that factors such as connectiveness to the family business, size of clientele served and generational distance to founder influence their private equity investments.

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