Distribution Waterfall

DEFINITION of 'Distribution Waterfall'

The order in which a private equity fund makes distributions. A distribution waterfall is a hierarchy delineating the order in which funds will be distributed, and may ensure that different types of investors have priority of payment compared to others within the same fund.

BREAKING DOWN 'Distribution Waterfall'

A distribution waterfall describes the method by which capital is distributed to a fund's investors as underlying investments are sold. It specifies, for example, that an investor will receive his or her initial investment plus a preferred return before the general partners can participate in the profits. Such an arrangement can increase the investor's confidence in the equity fund and its potential profitability for them.

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