(FINANCE) private equity fund; business entity formed to pool money provided by investors in order to buy majority stakes in existing companies. A common practice is to then "take the company private," so that it no longer has shares trading on the stock market. The company is then restructured, so that it has entirely different management practices, or a different business strategy. Afterward, the PE fund will most likely re-sell the company on the stock market in a sponsored IPO.
PE funds are usually limited partnerships (LPs), which gives them special privileges of nondisclosure; most are organized in the State of Delaware. PEF's have sponsors, or "principals," who are responsible for organizing the fund and recruiting other investors. They are never "limited liability partnerships" (LLP's); apologies to Urban Dictionary for erroneously mixing them up in my definition for "private equity fund" and "hedge fund." The difference between the two is explained there.
Among the best-known PE funds are Blackstone Group*, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)*, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners*, Carlyle Group, Permira, Apollo Management, Providence Equity, TPG Capital, Warburg Pincus, and Cerberus. Companies marked with an asterisk (*) are publicly listed corporations; most PE funds are privately managed. The selection above includes the largest ones by capital under management.
The PE fund first appeared in the 1970's as a result of changes to ERISA. Institutional investors, usually pension funds, could be legal partners in an LP; they also required a place to park assets with very high rates of return.
In the USA, PE funds have long been sinecures for the most powerful political dynasties: the Rockefellers, the Romneys, the Bushes, and others.