U.S. Equity Market Threatened as IPOs Decline, PGIM's Hunt Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. equity market is facing threats from private capital and a decline in the number of companies that go public, creating a challenge for retail investors, said Prudential Financial Inc.’s David Hunt, who runs the insurer’s $1.2 trillion asset management arm PGIM.

“I’m worried about the U.S. equities market,” Hunt said Tuesday at the Bloomberg Invest conference in New York. “I don’t think it’s in good shape.”

Hunt’s comments drew support from fellow panelist State Street Global Advisors Chief Executive Officer Cyrus Taraporevala, who said there’s a “de-democratization of investing.” Yie-Hsin Hung, who runs New York Life Insurance Co.’s investment manager, told the audience that the trend isn’t likely to reverse.

“A company, which might have started off in a VC environment, would at some point go public and Joe Public would have a shot at being able to invest in that part of the U.S. economy,” State Street’s Taraporevala said. “Not so much anymore. That’s a real societal problem.”

Hung, who was named CEO of New York Life Investment Management in 2015, said her company is offering different alternative assets to retail investors after its 2015 deal to buy IndexIQ.

“Institutions have always had access to these tools for decades, yet individual investors, not so much,” Hung said. “A lot of our focus today is building out that whole spectrum and thinking long and hard about how do we take these asset classes, like private equity and real estate and all the ones that we’re so familiar with, bring it down to a level where all investors can really participate.”

Hunt, whose PGIM oversees assets for investors including pensions, also said he’s concerned with current market prices. The S&P 500 Index is up 2.6% this year, adding to its gains in at least seven of the past 10 years.

“How to buy cheaply enough in a world that is very expensive I think is the biggest risk that long-term investors face today,” Hunt said Tuesday during a separate interview with Bloomberg Television.

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