Get expert advice on every topic you need as a small business owner, from the ideation stage to your eventual exit. Our articles, quick tips, infographics and how-to guides can offer entrepreneurs the most up-to-date information they need to flourish.

Subscribe to our blog

Buying to Sell Vs Buying to Keep: A Guide to PE Investments

Posted by Arya Chatterjee

April 5, 2024

Let’s unlock the strategies shaping the future of finance.

Welcome to the enigmatic world of private equity, where fortunes are made, and strategies are crafted with the precision of a Swiss watch. Opportunities abound, and risks lurk in every corner. Yet, companies are shaped in ways that often go beyond the traditional norms of public markets. While the average stock market investor nervously checks their portfolio amidst market fluctuations, private equity firms calmly orchestrate billion-dollar deals behind closed doors, reshaping industries.

Schedule a call today

Did you know that private equity-backed companies outperform their publicly traded counterparts? And while 2023 saw a downward trend, thanks to an uncertain economic and geopolitical environment, a study by PwC claims that PE companies are optimistic about the future. 51% of respondents expect their company to invest more in 2024 than the previous year, with 48% expecting a slight increase and 3% wanting to invest significantly more.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we dive into the strategic grand plays to score you a piece of PE pie, let’s peel back the layers of this financial onion and explore the strategic secret that propels private equity firms to the summit of success.

Understanding the strategic essence

Imagine you’re at the helm of a private equity firm and have a pot of gold full of capital at your disposal. The burning question is: how do you deploy this capital to yield the highest returns? This is where clever investment strategies come into play.

Talk to us about how Escalon’s essential business services can help your startup scale faster.

In a Harvard Business Review article, “The Strategic Secret of Private Equity,” authors Felix Barber and Michael Goold argue that successful private equity firms excel in financial engineering and strategic management. This dual prowess is the secret sauce to creating substantial value in their portfolio companies.

Furthermore, PE firms usually adopt two primary lines of action: buying to sell (BTS) and buying to keep (BTK). Each approach has its own merits and intricacies, shaping the destiny of the invested companies in significant ways.

Buying to sell (BTS): Unraveling the short-term game

Let’s first understand what buying to sell means. This strategy involves acquiring a company to overhaul its operations, pump growth, and ultimately sell it off for a handsome profit within a limited time frame. Consider it like finding a diamond in the rough, polishing it to perfection, and then cashing in on its newfound allure.

The strategic secret

In the BTS playbook, timing is everything. PE investors analyze potential targets with the precision of a surgeon, seeking companies with untapped potential or those facing operational calamities that can be swiftly turned around. Once in hand, these firms undergo a strategic makeover, focusing on streamlining operations, fine-tuning cost structures, and accelerating growth initiatives. All of this for what? To propel the company to new heights and fetch the golden egg upon exit.

Buying to keep (BTK): Navigating the long-term target

Now, we shift gears from buying to keeping. Unlike BTS, the BTK strategy in PE investment in finance is akin to nurturing a sapling into a mighty sequoia tree. Instead of a quick flip, PE firms are more patient, aiming to build enduring value over the long run. It’s a testament to the adage: slow and steady wins the race.

The strategic secret

In BTK, PE investment in finance prioritizes sustainability and resilience. Investors seek companies with robust fundamentals, sustainable cash flows, and resilient business models. Rather than inflicting exhaustive changes, the focus is on nurturing organic and sustainable growth, expanding market presence, and fortifying competitive moats. While the journey may not be as glamorous as the BTS route, the rewards offer a potential for sustained value creation and hefty wealth accumulation over a longer time.

Balancing act: The hybrid approach

The dichotomy between buying to sell and buying to keep isn’t always crystal clear. Many private equity firms take a hybrid approach, combining elements of both to optimize ROI.

For instance, a firm may initially pursue aggressive operational improvements to pump short-term gains, followed by strategic investments in long-term growth initiatives that are sustainable over the long run. This blend of short-term optimization and long-term value creation underlines the adaptive nature of private equity investment strategies.

Navigating the complexities

Now, how do PE firms navigate the intricacies of these investment strategies? It all lies in meticulous planning, rigorous due diligence, and razor-sharp execution. From financial modeling and market analysis to operational optimization and talent management, every last aspect is carefully orchestrated to maximize returns and mitigate risks.

Regarding PE investment in finance, firms leverage an army of tools and techniques to unlock maximum value. From debt financing and mezzanine capital to equity injections and structured exits, the PE toolkit is vast and variable, letting investors tailor their investment strategies to the unique requirements of each opportunity.

Moreover, the role of private equity accounting services must be considered. These are the behind-the-scenes superheroes backing firms with accurate financial reporting. In an era of heightened regulatory scrutiny and evolving accounting standards, private equity accounting services help firms navigate complex transactions, ensure compliance, and provide stakeholders with precise and reliable financial insights.

The bottom line

One thing is sure in the ever-evolving landscape of private equity investments. Everyone is in pursuit of the alpha. Whether through short-term maneuvers or long-term sustenance, PE firms are adept at spotting the most lucrative opportunities, unlocking hidden potential, and reshaping industries.

Schedule a call today

So, whether you’re buying to sell, buying to keep, or striking the perfect balance between the two, may your investments be sharp, your strategies savvy, and your returns resounding. After all, in the enigmatic world of finance, intelligence is the currency of champions.

Want to know more? In addition to HR, benefits, recruiting, and payroll through its PeopleOps, Escalon’s Essential Business Services include FinOps (CFO services, taxes, bookkeeping, and accounting) and Risk (business insurance). Talk to an expert today.


Arya Chatterjee
Arya Chatterjee

Arya Chatterjee is a freelance writer and consultant from Mumbai. With a background in journalism and over five years of creative writing experience working with legacy media like Architectural Digest and Femina India and brands like The Label Life, and Macy's, she crafts unique and compelling stories that engage the readers. She enjoys writing about health, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle and exploring the symbiotic relationship between thriving businesses and happy employees through her writing. She is always looking to explore new avenues to expand her creative energy.

We provide you with essential business services so you can focus on growth.