One thing was made abundantly clear in 2017: the asset class is growing and evolving.
The most influential firms in the private equity business have been busy, not only raising capital for their flagship programmes, but also diversifying, innovating, building expertise and expanding their horizons.
It seems fitting, then, that the PEI Awards – the only industry awards voted on by and for industry insiders – should also grow and evolve.
This year, the thousands of voters who had their say in our annual awards were asked to pick not only which firms, investors and advisors had dominated in each region around the globe, but also to decide which houses had distinguished themselves in several new global categories, covering impact investing, long-term investing and a number of sector specialisms.
What do we learn from the results? That multi-strategy franchises are forces to be reckoned with when they engage in either new ventures or specialised sectors, but they do not have it all their own way. Blackstone beat specialists to the crown in the energy and long-term fund categories, and TPG won in the impact category, but Silver Lake and L Catterton – both veteran investors in their respective specialties – were both recognised as leaders in their fields.
Across the entire honour roll, it is KKR that swept the board, thanks largely to its dominance in Asia. In the last year, the firm has opened an office in Shanghai – its eighth in the region – amassed $9.3 billion for the largest-ever Asia fund and anointed Asia head Joseph Bae as one of two heirs apparent to founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts. It is no wonder, then, that the firm picked up awards for Healthcare Private Equity Firm of the Year, Fundraise of the Year in Asia-Pacific, Firm of the Year in South-East Asia and Large-Cap Firm of the Year in Asia-Pacific.
Apollo Global Management stunned the industry when it closed its ninth flagship fund just shy of $25 billion last year. Buoyed by this and its reputation as a firm that can generate returns whether the economy is going up, down or sideways, it won three awards. So did emerging markets giant Actis, recognised for its ability to invest successfully in regions that prove too tough for many firms.
The PEI Awards remain the only awards in the industry decided solely by the industry. A big thank you to all those who participated, and to the winners – congratulations!