Equity securities of companies that have not "gone public" (are not listed on a public exchange). Private equities are generally illiquid and thought of as a long-term investment. As they are not listed on an exchange, any investor wishing to sell securities in private companies must find a buyer in the absence of a marketplace. In addition, there are transfer restrictions on private securities. Investors in private securities generally receive their return through one of two ways: an initial public offering, or a sale or merger.