Our comprehensive shortlist of the best books on PE and growth investing
If you’re looking to learn more about private equity or growth investing, reading a book is still one the best ways to get immersed in the subject. But which one should you pick? Below, we have shortlisted the top ten best books on private equity for you to read in 2022.
1. The Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital
Authors: David Greising and Robert Finkel
This book provides a great introduction to private equity and venture capital by detailing the experience of different investors, the companies they invested in and the mistakes they made along the way. Through real-life examples, the authors describe the basic tenant of private equity focusing on the more qualitative parts of the industry. Although the book is rather light on technical parts of the job (e.g., valuation or financial analysis), it does make for a lighter and more entertaining read.
"The Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital" was written by Robert Finkel (founder and managing partner of Prism Capital) and David Greising (who served as the Chief Business Correspondent for the Chicago Tribune).
2. Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
Authors: Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
An absolute classic and the book that is basically mandatory reading for anyone interested in this topic. "Barbarians At The Gate" tells the fascinating tale about the rise and fall of food giant RJR Nabisco, which fell prey to a hostile takeover from another competitor. The book is set in late 80's during the dawn of the modern private equity, when a number of large conglomerates were taken over and sold piecemeal by private investors.
Due to the books popularity, it was also converted into an HBO Emmy award-winning film. Although slightly aged now (the book was written in 1989) this classic still serves as a great into guide into how the PE industry started and the high stakes drama of American leveraged buy-outs of the late 80's and early 90s.
Barbarians At The Gate was written by John Helyar and Bryan Burrough, who are both American journalists who have previously written for WSJ and Vanity Fair.
3. King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone
Authors: David Carey and John E. Morris
King of Capital outlines the story of the private equity firm The Blackstone Group and its CEO, Steve Schwarzman, examining the history and adventures of those who made the company what it is today.
The authors do a great job in describing how Blackstone (and other private equity firms) have transformed themselves from the gamblers and hostile-takeover artists (i.e., the days of ‘barbarians at the gate’) into disciplined and risk-conscious investors.
King of Capital is an interesting mix of personal stories, industry trends, and a history of specific deals and what patterns can be learned from them. It gives a lot of insight into how LBOs (leveraged buyouts) work, from looking at their early ties with junk-bond funding, to the massive rounds they've raised in recent years.
4. The New Tycoons: Inside the Trillion Dollar Private Equity Industry That Owns Everything
Author: Jason Kelly
What do Dunkin' Donuts, J. Crew, Toys "R" Us, and Burger King have in common? They are all currently or just recently were owned, operated, and controlled by private equity firms. "The New Tycoons" takes the reader behind the scenes of these firms: their famous billionaire founders, the overlapping stories of their creation and evolution, and the outsized ambitions that led a group of clever bankers from small shops operating in a corner of Wall Street into powerhouse titans of capital. This is the story of the money and the men who handle it.
"The New Tycoons" is one of the more recent entries on our list (published in 2012) and thus contains more up-to date industry references and examples.
5. Lessons from Private Equity Any Company Can Use
Authors: Hugh MacArthur and Orit Gadiesh
Interested in applying the lessons from private equity to your company or industry? Then you should definitely try this book.
Written by Bain & Co Chairman Orit Gadiesh and Partner Hugh MacArthur, the book lays out the six disciplines that private equity firms use to attain their edge. Less of an industry overview and more of a practical guide for a senior manager or a CFO, this book covers several topics, including how to maximize cash and working capital to earn considerable returns for their investors.
6. An Introduction to Investment Banks, Hedge Funds, and Private Equity
Author: David Stowell
Explore the basics of investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity through this book by David Stowell. Here, the author reveals the true nature of these industries and how they influence the overall financial markets.
The book contains real cases of transactions carried out by investors and management teams. You will also explore market making, trading strategies, the evolution of equities and secondary markets.
7. Private Equity Operational Due Diligence: Tools to Evaluate Liquidity, Valuation, and Documentation
Author: Jason A. Scharfman
Getting the right tools to perform operational due diligence is crucial to successful deal making. Jason Scharfman offers a step-by-step guide to performing Ops DD for private equity and real estate funds. It includes guidelines for analyzing operational risks, legal documents, financial statements, pricing documentation, and much more.
8. International Private Equity
Authors: Florin Vasvari and Eli Talmor
With practical case studies that cover the entire investment process from beginning to end, this book is ideal for anyone looking a high level overview of private equity. "International Private Equity" outlines practical examples from different scenes across the world to educate readers at all stages of the deal process, including the management and exit stages.
9. Private Equity as an Asset Class
Author: Guy Fraser-Sampson
This book is a practical guide to help educate students and aspiring progessionals on the basic tenants of PE as an asset class. The book has a "PE 101" academic feel to it and thus acts as a thorough read, although a bit dry and boring at times.
It explores private equity from the basics and breaks down complex terms and intricacies.
Guy Fraser-Sampson uses his wealth of experience to help readers master the tiniest details of the highly specialized asset class. He also elaborates extensively on understanding PE returns and analyzing funds.
10. Private Equity Demystified: An Explanatory Guide
Authors: John Gilligan and Mike Wright
Gilligan and Wright examine a host of terms that surround private equity and everything that goes into sourcing and executing investment deals. They cover the history of private equity and its contribution to the modern global economy, supported by practical examples.
As its title says, this book focuses on simplifying PE while also providing readers with a clearer view of this asset class.