Just how successful is the private equity industry at creating lasting value? It’s a question that reaches to the heart of our annual Operational Excellence Awards, celebrating the GPs that have done most to transform their portfolio companies.
Every June, we ask managers to submit their best examples of how they deliver operational value as owners. To be eligible for this year’s awards, an investment had to be either fully or partially realised after 1 June, 2017. Entries are invited from three regions — Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa. We then divided them into three categories, according to the deal’s entry price — large-cap (greater than $500 million), upper mid-market ($150 million-$500 million) and lower mid-market/small-cap (less than $150 million).
The entries go before a judging panel comprising some of the leading scholars and operational experts in the private equity industry. Competition is tough, with record entry levels in many of the categories.
Returns form only part of the criteria. GPs are also expected to provide specific details of the changes and the initiatives they had undertaken, from product development and acquisition activity through to supply chain improvement and management enhancement.
And not just details but tangible evidence of how these initiatives created value. Impressive exit numbers were clearly a plus, but the main thing our judges were looking for was some genuinely ground-breaking work.
This year’s winners were a typically diverse bunch, including everything from a premium pet food manufacturer to a struggling Spanish data centre operator.
In recognition that operational excellence can take many shapes and forms, this year we also introduced an editors’ award for each region to reward those entries that shone in one particular area of management expertise. The inaugural winners were LeapFrog Investments for the healthcare impact from Mumbai-headquartered Mahindra Insurance Brokers; EQT Partners for its “carefully crafted” M&A programme for sports data collector Sportradar; and Apax Partners for its impressive growth strategy for US tech company GlobalLogic.
The multiples achieved by the winners and the range of growth strategies employed are testament to the impressive operational expertise the private equity industry has developed over the last three decades.
Congratulations to all the winners and a sincere thanks to all the GPs who entered in what the judges said was probably the toughest ever for entries.