PEI Awards 2014: KKR, Hony Capital, HarbourVest win big

PEI’s annual awards garnered more than 35,000 votes from industry insiders to blend familiar names with some new faces at the top of 2014’s roll of honour

KKR and HarbourVest were big winners in Private Equity International’s 2014 Awards, with both firms carrying off two prestigious awards.

KKR was named large-cap firm of the year in Asia for the second year running as the private equity giant continues to make interesting investments across the region from its record-breaking $6 billion Asia Fund II. The firm also won Asia Exit of the Year alongside Affinity Equity Partners for the sale of Oriental Brewery back to its previous owner, Anheuser-Busch InBev, in a $5.8 billion deal that generated a 5.3x return and a 42 percent IRR.

Hony Capital was chosen as the top firm in China, and also picked up an award for deal of the year in Europe for its £900 million (€1.2 billion; $1.4 billion) acquisition of PizzaExpress from Cinven’s Gondola Group in July.

Another double winner was HarbourVest, which landed the top spot for fund of funds of the year in both Asia and the Americas, the latter for the third year in a row. It was also the third consecutive win for The Riverside Company in the North America mid-market firm of the year category.

PEI Awards regular Actis picked up its seventh award in eight years for firm of the year in Africa, and VTB Capital took the top spot in Russia for the fourth year in a row. There was also a repeat win for CVC Capital Partners, which was acclaimed as large-cap firm of the year in Europe, thanks in part to its new 15-year “strategic opportunities” fund, for which it has secured $2 billion, as well as some interesting deals across the region.

2014 saw Dutch pension fund manager PGGM carry off the award for limited partner of the year in Europe, having allocated around €400 million to European private equity last year and there was a first time win for Gulf Capital in the MENA region. The Abu Dhabi-based firm pulled off a $750 million fundraise for GC Partners III and booked a jaw-dropping 10x return on its partial exit of Gulf Marine Services through an IPO on the London Stock Exchange, one of the most profitable transactions in the history of private equity in the Middle East.

In Asia Mekong Capital, which was in third place last year, took the top spot for frontier market firm of the year on the back of two spectacular exits, while industry heavyweight The Carlyle Group made its presence felt in Korea through its acquisition of ADT Korea, Tyco International’s Korean security business, for $1.93 billion.

This year there was a special Editor’s Choice award for mid-market firm of the year in Europe. Due to a technical glitch, the category was left out of this year’s award survey online, so the editorial team used its discretion and market knowledge to choose PAI Partners as the category’s winner.

As well as recognising particular groups, PEI's 2014 Awards honours an individual, naming the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Andrew Bowden as private equity game changer of the year. In his ‘Sunshine Statement’, delivered at one of PEI’s conferences in New York City in May, Bowden said the regulator had discovered “violations of law or material weaknesses in controls over 50 percent of the time” in how private equity firms dealt with handling fees and expenses. Bowden’s speech had an instant and profound impact on the industry that is likely to be felt for some time to come.

Click HERE to read our full coverage, which details which fund managers, investors, advisors and transactions took top honours and why.