PEI Awards 2019: Americas winners

Which investor took Large-cap Firm, Exit and Fundraise of the Year?

Large-cap Firm of the Year in North America

1. Blackstone

2. Advent International

3. Vista Equity Partners

The top firm in the PEI 300 surpassed itself again in 2019, with assets under management up 21 percent in the 12 months reaching a new record of $571 billion. The alternative asset management firm raised the largest PE fund in the industry, amassing $26 billion for Blackstone Capital Partners VIII. It also started new lines of business including life sciences, growth equity and an impact investing platform. Overall it invested $63 billion in 2019.

Mid-market Firm of the Year in North America

1. TA Associates

2. Genstar Capital

3. KPS Capital Partners

TA Associates, which is based in Boston and invests in technology, financial services, healthcare, business services and consumer, closed its largest growth equity fund to date in 2019, raising $8.5 billion for its TA XIII fund. The fund was oversubscribed and exceeded its original $7.5 billion target. The firm, led by managing partners Brian Conway and Ajit Nedungadi, also invested $2.2 billion in a dozen companies in 2019 as of November, including eight in North America.

Limited Partner of the Year in North America

1. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

2. Alaska Permanent Fund

3. Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which managed C$409.5 billion ($308.8 billion; €284.4 billion) as of 30 September, was one of the most active LPs investing in the region in 2019. One notable transaction was the purchase of HR company Ultimate Software alongside Hellman & Friedman, Blackstone and other investors. It also acquired revenue cycle technology firm Waystar with EQT for $2.7 billion. The pension plan further expanded its footprint in North America by opening a San Francisco outpost to better access investment opportunities and deepen relationships within the technology ecosystem.

Deal of the Year in North America

1. Hellman & Friedman for Ultimate Software

2. Blackstone for Magic Lab

3. Apollo Global Management for Tech Data

At the beginning of 2019, San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman led a consortium that acquired publicly traded Ultimate Software, a global provider of HR products and services in the cloud, in a transaction valued at approximately $11 billion, or $331.50 a share. Other investors in the deal included Blackstone, GIC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and JMI Equity. The 30-year-old company was quoted on the public market for two decades and will now be able to continue to grow away from shareholder pressure.

Exit of the Year in North America

1. Blackstone for Refinitiv

2. New Mountain Capital for Avantor

3. EQT Partners for Press Ganey

Less than a year after Blackstone invested in financial market data and infrastructure company Refinitiv alongside co-investors GIC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the London Stock Exchange announced its intention to purchase it for $27 billion. The merger created a company with strong capabilities in a fast-evolving landscape. Blackstone also has the potential to enjoy further growth as it agreed to stay at least partially invested in the combined company for about five years.

Fundraise of the Year (Americas)

1. Blackstone

2. Vista Equity Partners

3. Advent International

Blackstone closed on the largest-ever global private equity fund in September, raising
$26 billion of committed capital for Blackstone Capital Partners VIII, more than 30 times the size of the firm’s first private equity fund, which founder Stephen Schwarzman raised with co-founder Pete Peterson in 1987. It took about a year to raise the fund, which was seeking as much as $25 billion. BCP VIII is 26 percent larger than its 2014-vintage predecessor.

Distressed Debt Investor of the Year in North America

1. Oaktree Capital Management

2. Lone Star Funds

3. Varde Partners

There may have been a lack of investment opportunities in distressed debt in 2019 in North America, but specialists such as Oaktree Capital Management stayed busy raising new funds and preparing for the next downturn by collecting $2 billion for its Special Situations Fund II. The Los Angeles-based firm also sold a 62 percent stake to Brookfield Asset Management, which created a private equity behemoth focused on a wide range of alternative asset classes.

Fund of Funds Manager of the Year (Americas)

1. HarbourVest Partners

2. Pantheon

3. Portfolio Advisors

HarbourVest Partners raised about $1.5 billion in the Americas in 2019 and committed $1.8 billion to 49 funds in the regions. It closed its fifth co-investment fund at the end of the year, HarbourVest Partners Co-investment Fund V, on $3 billion, above its $2.5 billion target. It also closed its second fund formed under the Government of Canada’s Venture Capital Initiative, HarbourVest Canada Growth Fund II, on C$300 million ($227 million; €209 million).

Placement Agent of the Year in North America

1. Evercore

2. Credit Suisse

3. Eaton Partners

Evercore held final closes for six North American buyout funds in 2019, all oversubscribed at their hard-caps and totalling more than $12 billion in capital. A major highlight
included Genstar Capital’s Fund IX, Evercore’s third consecutive fundraising engagement with Genstar, which closed with $5.5 billion in limited partner commitments. The firm also raised Arlington Capital Partners V, which closed at its hard-cap of $1.7 billion in
three months.

Firm of the Year in Canada

1. Brookfield Asset Management

2. Northleaf Capital

3. Altas Partners

Brookfield Asset Management is a large alternative asset manager that grew bigger in 2019, after it purchased more than 60 percent of credit giant Oaktree Capital Management in August. The Toronto-based firm also closed its latest flagship fund, Brookfield Capital Partners V, announcing in November it had raised total commitments of $9 billion, above its $7 billion initial target. The firm now has more than $510 billion in assets under management.

Lender of the Year in North America

1. Ares Management

2. Owl Rock Capital Partners

3. Brookfield Asset Management

With about $144 billion in total assets under management as of 30 September 2019, AresManagement operates one of the largest credit platforms and is, in particular, very active in self-originating direct lending for the mid-market. In January, its inaugural oversubscribed commingled US senior direct lending fund, Ares Senior Direct Lending Fund, gathered $3 billion in total commitments. It attracted 21 new investors and commitments from 24 existing investors.

Firm of the Year in Latin America

1. Advent International

2. L Catterton

3. Vinci Partners

Advent International raised $17.5 billion for its latest flagship fund in 2019, Advent International GPE IX. Advent was also busy investing in the region last year through its dedicated Latin American fund, LAPEF VI, including a minority investment in CI&T, a digital technology solutions provider in Brazil, and a 51 percent share in Argentinian payments company Prisma Medios de Pago. In terms of exits, Advent sold its 50 percent stakes in Alianza Fiduciaria and Alianza Valores, Colombia’s largest independent trust and custody services provider and asset manager, respectively, to an investor group led by Australis Partners, among others.

Law Firm of the Year in North America (fund formation)

1. Kirkland & Ellis

2. Debevoise & Plimpton

3. Ropes & Gray

Kirkland & Ellis has once again made its mark in North America’s fundraising market, maintaining prime position in this category for a second consecutive year. Among many others, recent mandates have included the oversubscribed Thoma Bravo Fund XIII, which closed at $12.6 billion in January 2019, and the first and final closings of KPS Capital Partners’ KPS Special Situations Fund V and KPS Special Situations Mid-Cap Fund, which closed in October 2019 with aggregate commitments totalling $7 billion.

Law Firm of the Year in North America (transactions)

1. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

2. Ropes & Gray

3. Debevoise & Plimpton

The law firm advised on seven of the top 10 US target private equity deals in 2019, helping it to claim the top spot in 2019’s North America transactions category. It remained a go-to advisor for Blackstone, serving as legal counsel on deals such as the $18.7 billion acquisition of US logistics assets from GLP and the $5.9 billion acquisition of Colony Industrial, the industrial real estate assets and affiliated industrial operating platform of Colony Capital.