How to approach PE Investment Cases best?

Case case study Cases Investment Private Equity
Recent activity on Feb 05, 2018
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 05, 2018

What is the best way to structure a case in which a PE ist considering an investment?

Thanks a lot in advance!

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updated an answer on Feb 05, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

quoting a previous post that I wrote, I would consider the following steps:

1) GOAL CLARIFICATION. It is always good to start with the end in mind – thus what is the specific reason why they want to buy the company? Just make profits reselling in 3 years for a higher price? Benefit from synergies with a portfolio company? Test the market for a bigger acquisition?

2) INDUSTRY. There are two macrovariables here.

  • Key industry numbers/facts. This includes for the market and potential subsegments the following
    • Growth
    • Size
    • Barriers to entry (BTE)
  • Key industry players. This includes:
    • Customers segmentation
    • Competition
    • Occasionally for some cases: suppliers and substitutes.

You should present this area connecting with the goal, and not purely listing the elements to analyse as if it was a laundry list. The best way to do so is explain how a certain variable will help you to achieve you goal. Eg, if your goal is to increase revenues, don’t simply say “I want to look at growth, size and BTE”, rather “I want to look at growth and size – this will tell me if the market has the potential to provide enough revenues for our client. I would also like to check BTE, to understand which are the obstacles in entering such a market and thus increase revenues”.

3) COMPANY - TARGET OBJECTIVE FEASIBILITY. Here you want to check the fit between the client and the selected industries.

  • Can our specific client reach its objective in the selected market (eg profits, revenues, increase in value, etc)?
  • Are there positive or negative synergies with the acquisition?

In the first point, you will probably have to go through a profitability/revenue/cost framework, to calculate the effective result.

4) PRICE AND CAPABILITIES. Once you know the industry is attractive and you can reach you goal, you should consider if the price is fair and you have enough capabilities

  • Is the price fair? To understand so, you should do a comparison between the acquisition price and the company value, using multiples in the industry or a DCF analysis.
  • Do we have enough money and other required resources (eg more proper management) to implement our strategy?

You can find more information on the DCF analysis at the link below:

5) RISKS AND NEXT STEPS. What are the major elements that we should further analyse based on the previous points (eg regulator decision, potential other targets to consider, implementation risks, exit strategies)?

Hope this helps,



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Anonymous C on Nov 06, 2020

Hi Francesco, thanks for the above. I had a question on your 'goal clarification'. I understand your first 2 points (profits vs synergies) but am struggling to understand your third - would you mind elaborating? Further, is this exhaustive or are there any other goals/ objectives not listed here? Thanks!

Francesco on Nov 06, 2020

Hi there, the third objective may be translated into increase in revenues or a related metric. I would say the most common goal in a PE case is increase profits to resell at higher price, the interviewer can anyway clarify if the objective is different. Hope this helps!

replied on Feb 05, 2018

Hey anonymous,

Let me recover one proposal I ellaborated just a few days ago to a (relatively) similar query.

1. analyze the market/external factors

how sizable is currently the market and any growht expectation into the future? (demand side)

what about the competitive landscape? (supply side)

any relevant regulations/barriers to entry? (supply side)

2. analyze the company internal factors

what's the historical financial performance (traditional profitability tree; include benchmark vs. competitors and market share)?

do they have the right/needed capabilities (production, distribution, transport, management)?

3. transaction details

adequate pricing (valuation piece)

how to finance the transaction

exit strategy



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replied on Feb 05, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


At the consulting interviews you may have two types of PE cases:

  1. Due-diligence of the target company
  2. Synergies calculation of two merging companies

You can check which type of case you have by asking whether the PE fund already has another company in the portfolio for the synergies.

1. For DD you can use the following structure:


  • Size
  • Growth rates
  • Profitability
  • Segments
  • Distribution channels


  • Market shares of competitors and their segments (see the next point)
  • Concentration / fragmentation (Fragmented market with lots of small players is less mature and easier to enter from a scratch. Concentrated market is hard to enter but has potential acquisition targets)
  • Unit economics of the players (Margins, relative cost position)
  • Key capabilities of the players (e.g. suppliers, assets, IP, etc)


  • Unit economics (Margins, costs) in current or target markets
  • Brand
  • Product mix
  • Key capabilities

Feasibility of exit:

  • Exit multiples
  • Exit time
  • Existence of buyers

2. For Synergies Calculation you can use the following structure:

  1. Revenue synergies - here you calculate the synergies in price and quantity (depending on the case it may be new geographies, new products, new distribution channels, bigger share on shelves crosselling opportunities, etc.)
  2. Cost synergies - typically you use a value chain structure tailored to the industry (e.g. supply-production-distribution-marketing-after sales support)
  3. Risks - major risks that can decrease the synergies (tip: don't underestimate the merging companies culture factor)
  4. Total synergies potential in $, adjusted by risk (probability of failure)

In private equity interviews, the cases will be much more detailed in financial part. Depending on the company you'll need to:

  • Find the relevant information in P&L and Balance sheet
  • Do the simplified valuation using NPV: calculate cash flows and make assumptions about growth rate and discount rate
  • Do the valuation using comps - you'll have to explain which comps you will use and why

Good luck!

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replied on Feb 05, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

I agree with both answers. Maybe to get a little sharper on two points:

1) goal clarification --> if it's a PE firm you can ask immediately what is the exit hurdle rate and time horizon of investment. It's a fair assumption that a PE doesn't acquire for just "making a profit" but has a clear threshold in mind. Also In terms of synergies, that goes back to how do those synergies turn into reaching the threshold for both current target and old portfolio company (very rare)

2) valuation --> while is good to list all methods, would feel that suggesting to do a DCF during a live interview would be sadist unless a table with discount rates for all years is provided. My preference always goes for multiples and then ask if they do have a DCF done to compare between the two.

hope it helps!


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Originally answered question:

Private Equity case interview

Anonymous B replied on Jun 15, 2016


I don't have personal experience interviewing with PE firms, but according to my friends:

1. The focus is on valuation cases (duh :P) - these require you to estimate a target company's revenue sources, costs and do some basic DCF calculations to arrive at a price that they should pay for the target.

2. The cases are math-heavy and you are required to be quick on your feet with calculations and estimates.

3. Be clear on the personal interview front - why do you want to join PE? How do your story and motivations lead up to this?

All the best!

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Francesco gave the best answer


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