Debt placements total more than $9bn for firms including Vista and Warburg Pincus

A succession of private equity firms are going public. But another group has been raising capital more discreetly — by selling record amounts of debt.

The industry’s biggest privately held firms raised at least $9bn through debt sales last year to invest in their own buyout funds, finance growth or pay dividends to partners, according to industry executives and records obtained by the Financial Times. They include Warburg Pincus, Bain Capital, General Atlantic and Vista Equity Partners.

Private equity firms have traditionally funded their leveraged buyout deals by taking loans against a target company’s assets. But debt taken on by buyout firms themselves, as opposed to their portfolio companies, marks a shift from the past. They have more commonly raised cash by selling minority equity stakes to private investors or through an initial public offering, as TPG did at a valuation of $10bn this month.

Read more: Financial Times