What Is Private Equity?
Private equity refers to firms that put big chunks of cash from sources such as pension funds or endowments into buying not publicly traded and (often) faltering businesses or assets and selling them for a profit. Private equity invests in a wide variety of industries. It is an asset class consisting of equity securities and debt in operating companies that are on a stock exchange. A private equity investment will generally be made by a private equity firm, a venture capital firm or an angel investor.
Just over six years after the Dodd-Frank Act became effective, private equity firms impacted by the law could get some relief if a bill they’ve championed makes it through an upcoming vote in the House of Representatives. (September, 2016).
After the 2008 financial crisis, private equity took a hit from federal regulators. Beforehand, they faced little oversight. Afterward, they suddenly found themselves with a bunch of new regulatory exams and reporting obligations. While they can play some risky games PEs aren’t as regulated as your normal bank.
PE firms make money off of deals by taking 2 percent of the money it manages and a 20 percent (commission) of the profits above a certain baseline.
What Is Dodd-Frank?
Dodd-Frank was a Wall Street reform bill that was thought up after the 2008 financial crisis to try and avoid a repeat of that disaster. It was the first major change to federal financial regulations in the United States since reforms that came just after the Great Depression.
While it had plenty of critics, it has been championed by many who point out that it succeeded in at least some ways. The SEC reportedly has been taking action against private equity firms lately, including at least one crack down on an adviser who decided not to register as a broker (brokers with more than 15 clients need to register). That case was settled.
Opponents of the House bill point to those successes as reason to keep the rules how they are and not to loosen them.
What Does This New Bill Do?
OK, so it isn’t a repeal of Dodd-Frank, but it does loosen requirements for private equity firms when it comes to what information they have to provide to the SEC. That includes, most importantly, loosened rules for reporting what types of commodities the firms are buying and who is running the show as an adviser.