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Private equity experienced dramatic fluctuations in investment activity in line with the turbulences of financial markets in recent years. Claudia Sommer develops a theoretical framework of factors driving private equity investment activity and the resulting performance implications. Using a data set of more than 40,000 European transactions, she applies a variety of econometrical approaches and shows how neoclassical aspects, information asymmetries, agency conflicts, and market timing contribute to the dynamics in the private equity market. In a performance analysis of more than 1,300 European funds she reveals the resulting performance implications.