Can This Man Create A Stock Market For Private Equity?

EQT Chief Executive Christian Sinding Is Trying to Bring The Perks of Public Markets To Private Equity

By Diane Brady, Forbes Staff

Christian Sinding believes private equity has a branding challenge. “It hasn’t been the most transparent” form of investing, says the chief executive and managing partner of EQT Partners. Moreover, the Oslo-born leader adds, some “bad actors” have given private equity a reputation for buying and stripping out value vs. buying and building.

Sinding, 51, says the alternative investment firm was founded in 1994 on a simple principle: “How could we be the best owner of companies that we could be while using the private-equity toolbox that was developed here in North America?”

The result has been one of the world’s fastest-growing private equity firms, with a portfolio of 280 companies that together employ about a million employees. It completed a $7.5 billion merger with Baring Private Equity Asia late last year and has roughly $250 billion in total assets under management.

While EQT itself is public, having listed on Nasdaq Stockholm in 2019, it has no immediate plans to list some of its portfolio companies through an IPO. Sinding blames regulatory hurdles and lackluster valuations for the decline in public companies and increase in PE-backed ones. [Its own shares, and that of rivals like KKR, Blackstone and TPG, have been choppy this year.]

Instead, Sinding says, EQT plans to now bring public-market tools to the private realm to give its 1,200+ investors more liquidity. Unlike OTC markets that facilitate direct sales between buyers, this will be an auction. As he notes, it’s “very similar to buying stocks in the stock market, only it’s private.”

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