Friday Letter: And the winners are …

Private equity is a truly international business, and is shaping companies and economies around the world.  

Whilst individual firms focus on helping portfolio companies compete in global markets, the industry as a whole has gained influence in even in the most far-flung corners of the world. As an asset class, private equity is undergoing an increasingly dynamic process of globalisation as well, with limited partner capital now hunting – and finding – private equity funds to invest in on every continent.

To recognise excellence in such an environment, accolades should be attributed on a world-wide basis too. This is why our Global Private Equity Awards for 2005, which we announced on Wednesday, were the biggest we have ever organised. Now in its fifth year, our online poll returned over 50 different winners, comprising both people and firms that were voted top of their class by their peers. 

Overall, over 20,000 votes were cast online, the biggest turnout we have had. As has become the trademark of these awards, voters were unfettered by predetermined shortlists, nor were there any jurors reshaping their choices. Those to receive the most (legitimate) online votes in any given category won. And here are the results.

Among the global award categories, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts co-founder Henry Kravis was voted Private Equity Personality of the Year, ahead of Terra Firma’s Guy Hands and Texas Pacific Group head David Bonderman. Large Buyout Firm of the Year was The Blackstone Group (with KKR second and CVC Capital Partners third) while Venture Firm of the Year went to veteran firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, followed by fellow West Coast giant Sequoia Capital and – notably – European house Index Ventures. AlpInvest was voted Limited Partner of the Year, and Coller Capital prevailed as last year’s most impressive secondary specialist. 

In addition to covering the mature and well established areas of private equity investment activity, the 2005 awards also featured several emerging private equity market categories for the first time. Highlights here included success for South African based sponsor Brait, which was voted African Private Equity Firm of the Year, and Baring Vostok Capital Partners, which came top of the tables in Russia. Middle East Private Equity Firm of the Year was Dubai-based Abraaj Capital.

To us, the number and diversity of votes and voters made the 2005 awards especially interesting. The new categories reflected the fact that the asset class has taken root in a number of new markets that are already evidencing significant scale. We are not talking about an investment methodology just suited to Western, post-industrial economies: venture capital and private equity clearly are helping form markets at all stages of the development spectrum and all over the world.

In our view, this isn’t just a short-lived phenomenon. Granted, there will be a time when market conditions for private equity will not be as benign as they are today. But although there will be peaks and troughs, private equity as a global driver of markets has a long future ahead of it. And the same is hopefully true for PEO’s Global Private Equity Awards.

PS: Don’t forget you get a 10 per cent discount on a subscription to PEO and your own free copy of our 150-page 2005 Annual Review if you sign up today – the offer closes tonight. To close the deal now, click here.