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The Hidden Costs of Private Equity's 'Bare Minimum' Approach: Uncovering the Consequences for Firms and Portfolio Companies

In recent years, the private equity (PE) sector has grown exponentially, providing capital and resources to numerous businesses. However, there have been concerns about some PE firms adopting a "bare minimum" approach when investing in their portfolio companies. This practice not only stunts the growth of these businesses but also has severe repercussions for the firms themselves. In this blog post, we will discuss the costs associated with such a strategy, citing four reputable sources to support our arguments.

Loss of Potential Growth and Long-term Value

One of the significant costs of a bare minimum approach is the loss of potential growth and long-term value. When PE firms invest just enough to keep the business afloat without truly supporting its growth and development, they ultimately hurt the company's potential. A study by Appelbaum and Batt (2014) found that private equity-owned firms often underperform in terms of growth and job creation compared to their counterparts (1). This can lead to missed opportunities and diminished returns on investment.

Damage to Reputation and Industry Perception

PE firms that consistently adopt a bare minimum approach may suffer from a damaged reputation and negative industry perception. A report from The Guardian (2019) highlights the predatory nature of some PE firms, leading to public distrust and resistance (2). This can result in challenges when raising new funds or securing deals with potential partners, ultimately hurting the firm's future prospects.

Employee Turnover and Loss of Talent

When PE firms provide minimal support, employees may feel undervalued and unappreciated, leading to high turnover rates and loss of talent. According to a Harvard Business Review article by Leslie and Oyer (2013), employee satisfaction at private equity-owned firms is lower than at other types of companies (3). This dissatisfaction can result in the loss of skilled and experienced employees, ultimately impacting the performance of the portfolio companies.

Financial Consequences

The financial consequences of a bare minimum approach are significant. According to a study by Davis et al. (2014), private equity-owned firms are more likely to default on their debt obligations (4). This can lead to increased risk for investors and creditors, as well as the possibility of bankruptcy or liquidation.


The bare minimum approach in private equity not only hinders the growth and success of portfolio companies but also has dire consequences for the PE firms themselves. From the loss of potential growth and long-term value to damaged reputations, high employee turnover, and financial repercussions, the costs associated with this strategy are significant. It is crucial for private equity firms to reconsider this approach and prioritize the long-term success of their investments by providing comprehensive support and resources to their portfolio companies.



(1) Appelbaum, E., & Batt, R. (2014). Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street. Russell Sage Foundation.

(2) Kollewe, J. (2019, June 26). Private equity firms accused of behaving like 'vultures' by MPs. The Guardian.

(3) Leslie, P., & Oyer, P. (2013, May). The Surprising Impact of Private Equity. Harvard Business Review.

(4) Davis, S. J., Haltiwanger, J., Handley, K., Jarmin, R., Lerner, J., & Miranda, J. (2014). Private Equity, Jobs, and Productivity. American Economic Review, 104(12), 3956-3990.