Determining “Fair Value” During a Crisis: Coronavirus’ Impact on Private Debt and Equity Valuations

The massive shocks sent by the coronavirus pandemic through the financial markets have forced fund managers to reconsider their practices for valuing relatively illiquid assets. To help fund managers determine best practices and risk areas when valuing assets in that context, Duff & Phelps recently hosted a webinar exploring valuations in the private credit, real estate and energy sectors. The program featured Duff & Phelps managing directors David Larsen (alternative asset advisory); Ross Hostetter (portfolio valuation); Ryan McNelley (portfolio valuation); David Scott (portfolio valuation); and Ross Prindle (real estate advisory). This article summarizes the key takeaways from the webinar and provides guidance for fund managers attempting to update their fair value estimates to date in 2020 to account for market disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic. That includes, among other topics, how to estimate the short- and long-term impacts of market disruption; appropriate weighting of observable market transactions in a volatile public market; and the epidemic’s impact on value drivers such as revenue, cost, growth, competition and market conditions. For additional commentary from Duff & Phelps, see “What Role Should the GC or CCO Play in the Audit of a Fund’s Financial Statements?” (Feb. 4, 2020); and “How CCOs Can Use a Sample OCIE Information Request Letter to Improve Their Compliance Programs” (Jan. 28, 2020).

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