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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity's assets under management hit new record highs in 2020, despite a fundraising slowdown.

Between the lines: Neither snow nor rain nor global pandemic can erode the mountain of dry powder — PE jargon for capital committed to funds that hasn't yet been invested.

By the numbers: Every data provider calculates dry powder a bit differently, particularly since many PE deal sizes aren't disclosed and others don't break out equity vs. debt. But, within these different matrixes, the constant is all-time records. For example:

  • EY reports that global buyout dry powder rose by 9% in 2020 to $865 billion, nearly half of which sits inside of mega-funds. Its figure has more than doubled over the past decade.
  • Preqin reports that the global PE/VC dry powder is at a record level of nearly $2 trillion, of which 25% is in Asia-Pacific and another 19% is in Europe.

Between the lines: The term "dry powder" is derived from musket days, when loose gunpowder had to be properly stored, lest it get damp and lose its efficacy.

  • It loses something in translation, particularly as more and more capital is committed but not disbursed. Fund managers can become tempted to lose discipline, thus reducing the efficacy of their powder, even if it was technically stored in a dry place.

The bottom line: More dry powder almost always results in more deals at higher prices, whether or not justified by the underlying fundamentals or overlying macro conditions.

Go deeper

DiDi to delist from NYSE under Chinese govt pressure

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese ride-hail giant DiDi said it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange, following a Chinese government crackdown on foreign listings.

Why it matters: This reflects how geopolitical tensions are bleeding into the capital markets.

Updated 20 mins ago - Health

Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hawaii became on Thursday the fifth state to confirm the newly discovered Omicron variant after New York announced five new cases earlier in the day.

The latest: In Hawaii, the variant was found in an unvaccinated O'ahu resident with moderate symptoms who had previously been infected with COVID-19, per a state health department statement. The variant has also been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

Senate Dems receive max donations from Nord Stream 2 lobbyist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A major Democratic donor and Nord Stream 2 lobbyist has made maximum campaign contributions this year to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and vulnerable Senate Democrats, campaign finance records show.

Why it matters: If pressure from the White House to vote against reimposing sanctions on the Russia-backed natural gas pipeline weren't enough, Democrats who back such legislation also will be at loggerheads with one of their party's top fundraisers.

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