Private equity luminaries mingled amid statues of Greek gods last night at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum – a fitting setting for a celebration toasting some of the industry’s most prominent names.
Firms including CVC Capital Partners, Actis, HarbourVest Partners, ICG, MVision, CDH Investments, Lexington and Advent International were among the previously announced winners in our Private Equity International awards. These awards marked the eighth straight year PEO and Private Equity International readers have voted in our global poll, which is determined entirely by the industry's participants, not our publications’ editors. They are the only entirely democratic awards in the industry.
There is, however, one award we don’t allow readers to vote for: our Private Equity Leader award. We, the PEI team, decide. Every year we pick one individual who we think, over the course of his or her career, has made a crucial contribution to the development of private equity as an industry and an asset class. They have helped private equity grow into the position of influence it occupies today, and they continue to lead by example. They are people with big ideas, an appetite for risk, and often colourful personalities.
Last year the inaugural recipient of the Private Equity Leader award was Sir Ronald Cohen; this year we chose a man with a similar track record of achievement, but a slightly different personal style.
Last night, in the lead-up to announcing this year’s recipient, the Master of Ceremonies' use of phrases like “he defines contrarian” and “raised the largest fund of its kind” had the audience murmuring “Jeremy Coller” long before his name was called.
Then the founder and chief executive of secondaries giant Coller Capital stepped onto the stage to collect the award in recognition of his role in shaping the now blossoming secondaries market.
Coller said it was a “sign of the times” that a secondaries player should be recognised as this year’s leader. We quite agree. With liquidity a struggle for many institutions around the world, and active portfolio management an increasingly accepted practice among LPs, the secondaries market is destined to play an ever more important role for GPs and LPs alike. Long gone are the days when secondary transactions were suspiciously regarded as a fleeting trend.