It’s no surprise that private equity firms have had trouble raising money recently.

Preqin, a research company, reckons that global fundraising in the fourth quarter of 2009, at US$35.1bn, was the weakest in six years. The amount raised for the whole of 2009, US$245.6bn, was the lowest since 2004.

These relatively meagre sums were not collected without difficulty. The time that private equity managers left funds open in 2009 was roughly double what it took to close a fund in 2004. Around half of private equity investors polled by Preqin say that they will not make any new commitments until the second half of 2010 or later. These days, convincing cash-strapped investors to devote cash for debt-laden buyouts is a tough sell.