The five biggest private equity stories so far this year

From the next leaders of the industry to the intricacies of EBITDA, these are the stories that have generated the most interest on Private Equity International in 2019.

Future 40: The next leaders of private equity

In May we brought you the Future 40, a list of industry practitioners under the age of 40 who are regarded by their peers as the future leaders. It was a humbling read: the list included a 32-year-old who leads cutting-edge transactions for a world-leading institutional investor, a 36-year-old head of fund investments for a €163 billion government-backed investor, and a 35-year-old who has deployed $2.5 billion on behalf of New York’s pensioners – and that’s just the start of it. This is the cohort tasked with ensuring private equity stays relevant for the next generation. We think they’re up to the challenge.

Ex-KKR exec Alex Navab dies

Alex Navab, a former KKR senior executive who recently embarked on launching his own firm, died unexpectedly over the Fourth of July weekend. The reads this story garnered is testament to how well-known and well-loved Navab was, and just how much his death shocked the private equity community. Those from across the business, political and philanthropic landscape paid tribute to the man who was plotting to raise the largest debut private equity vehicle by an independent firm while baking philanthropy into his firm’s DNA.

BlackRock PE trio departs to launch growth firm

The world’s largest asset manager has been pushing into private equity in recent years, but at least three senior executives at the firm wanted to go it alone. Managing directors Jay Park and Muhammad Mian, and director Matt Roberts left the firm’s private equity partners unit to form growth-focused Prysm Capital in July, as we reported. No doubt the trio want to take advantage of LP appetite for the strategy – growth equity was the only strategy that had an increase in capital raised in final closes in the first half of the year.

EBITDA on steroids

Addbacks – sums “added back” to the profits of a company for myriad reasons, increasing the EBITDA figure – technically enable a company to disguise the amount of leverage it is taking on. This was the subject of a deep dive by sister title Private Debt Investor in June and one of our most read stories of the year. As traditional limitations around addbacks are eroded, there’s some talk of investors only using EBITDA as a secondary tool when it comes to valuing a business.

CPPIB: The smartest, nicest guys in the room

Non-traditional buyers in the ever-expanding secondaries market have begun to make a serious mark in recent years. At the top of this group is Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, whose secondaries team ranks among the largest buyers in terms of deployment. Our interview with the five-member senior team, published in February, garnered a tonne of reads. At the heart of the piece was this question: How does a team that doesn’t use leverage, or use carry to incentivise staff, win so many large deals? The answer: a combination of primary capital, smarts and being downright nice guys.

What’s been your favourite read so far this year? Let us know