"GP-led deals" is a term coined to group together a number of existing techniques that have been used by general partners for many years to engineer secondary market transactions in their favor.
There are two main types of GP-led deals: tender offers and fund restructurings.
Tender offers entail a buyer putting forward an offer to all investors in a fund to purchase their stakes. Such transactions are almost always "stapled" transactions, meaning the buyer will reward the general partner with new primary commitments to a separate fund, in direct proportion to the uptake of its tender offer. Quite simply, the more investors who sell their stakes in the old fund, the more money the GP is able to raise for its new fund. Fund restructurings involve a more fundamental change in the older vehicle. Essentially reopening these funds, the objective is to raise new primary commitments which then may be used to make new investments or inject fresh capital into older assets.
Importantly, in both types of transaction, there is almost always some element whereby the GP benefits, either by raising fresh primary capital or having their economics reset.
A key concern is that GP-led deals give managers a second bite of the cherry. This has potentially serious implications for the way funds are managed. Managers are free to take risks and if they pay off then they get the upside, but if they don't pay off they can nevertheless "restructure" or use a stapling process to raise another vehicle. This possibly gives managers an incentive to take far bigger risks for their investments.
Thus, there is a balance that limited partners must consider between solving near-term fund-specific problems today and creating a precedent that leads to more of these transactions in the future.