Geographies of Private Equity

Bolstered by unprecedented demand from institutional investors and an abundance of cheap financing, in recent years private equity (PE) investment has surged to $US592 billion in global buyout deal value (Bain & Company, 2021, p 9). As a segment of the global economy, PE firms are significant actors with thousands of companies under management in sectors ranging from retail to real estate to healthcare. Yet, as a disproportionate number of PE portfolio companies are filing for bankruptcy, PE firms are receiving renewed attention for their management and ‘financial engineering’ strategies. Despite calls from politicians, regulators, academics and activists for oversight and reform, the practices that characterize the private equity business model have remained largely unchanged (Applebaum and Batt, 2014; Froud and Williams, 2007).

While critical approaches to studying the geographies of private equity have emerged in recent years, including incisive geographical scholarship on private equity investments in housing (Fields, 2018) and care homes (Horton, 2019), Morgan and Nasir (2021) note that critical social science scholarship on the topic remains scant. Broadening out from firm-centric approaches, this session seeks to shine a light on private equity investment across a range of ‘everyday’ sites and spaces. Bringing together geographers and allied scholars, this session will foster a conversation about the contemporary geographies of private equity to better understand where, how, and why private equity operates as it does in this moment.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to: