PEI Awards 2019: Asia-Pacific winners

Presenting the region’s best firms, limited partners and managers.

Large-cap Firm of the Year in Asia

1. KKR

2. Bain Capital

3. PAG

KKR continues to dominate in Asia, claiming the Large-cap Firm of the Year title in the region for the fourth year in a row. Investment activity for KKR Asian Fund III, its $9.3 billion flagship pan-Asian private equity fund, has spanned China, Japan, Korea, India, Singapore and the Philippines, and delved into industries including healthcare, technology, industrials, basic materials, food and beverages, and consumer products. Philippines-based Metro Pacific Hospitals, China’s NVC Lighting, and Indian education services provider EuroKids are among KKR’s prominent recent investments in the region.

Mid-market Firm of the Year in Asia

1. Everstone

2. Navis Capital Partners

3. EQT

Singapore-headquartered Everstone knocked it out of the park with its sale of Mumbai pharma business Rubicon to General Atlantic in March. The deal is understood to have generated a 4x multiple and 89 percent internal rate of return. Everstone also swelled its ranks with several hires, including former Temasek director Vibhor Talreja, who was appointed to lead financial services investments, and ex-Dell president Suresh Vaswani as a senior director.

Limited Partner of the Year in Asia

1. Temasek

2. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

3. CDC Group

Singapore’s state-backed investment firm was an exit machine last year, having been involved in four of Asia’s 10 largest private equity sales, as of November. These included selling its shares in real estate manager Ascendas-Singbridge Group to CapitaLand, as well as its majority stake in Indonesia’s Bank Danamon to Mitsubishi for around $4 billion. Meanwhile, its $3 billion bid for shipyard conglomerate Keppel in October would be the biggest entry of 2019, if completed.

Deal of the Year in Asia

1. KKR for Metro Pacific Hospitals

2. Baring Private Equity Asia for Pioneer Corporation

3. PAG for Hisun BioRay

The Philippines isn’t known for its wealth of private equity opportunities, making KKR’s acquisition of healthcare network Metro Pacific Hospitals alongside sovereign wealth fund GIC all the more impressive. The $680 million deal was the country’s largest such investment and will be used to purchase additional hospitals and healthcare businesses. KKR invested via its flagship Asian Fund III, which closed on $9.3 billion in 2017.

Exit of the Year in Asia

1. KKR for KCF Technologies

2. Everstone for Rubicon

3. Warburg Pincus for ESR Cayman

In 2018 KKR completed its investment in South Korea’s LS Automotive and the acquisition and carve out of KCF Technologies, the copper foil and flexible copper-clad laminate business formerly known as LS Mtron. During its investment period, KKR assisted KCFT’s management in securing long-term supply contracts, making senior appointments, establishing the core functions of an independent company, entering new markets, and expanding its production capacity. KKR sold its 100 percent equity stake in KCFT to SKC for 1.2 trillion South Korean won ($1 billion; €0.92 billion) in June 2019.

Fundraise of the Year in Asia

1. PAG

2. The Carlyle Group

3. Warburg Pincus

In a vote of confidence from limited partners, Hong Kong’s PAG completed a nearly
70 percent step-up in fund size for its third buyout fund. The firm held a one-and-done at its $6 billion hard-cap in November 2018 after just five months on the road, amassing significantly more firepower than its $3.6 billion 2015-vintage Fund II. The vehicle attracted some colossal cheques, including $380 million from both California Public Employees’ Retirement System and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, as well as $350 million from Washington State Investment Board.

Firm of the Year in Australasia

1. Affinity Equity Partners

2. Grosvenor Capital Management

3. Adamantem Capital

Private equity sales are unpredictable beasts, so it’s serendipitous that Affinity managed to sign – and complete – two Australian exits on the same day. The Hong Kong-based firm is understood to have sold Velocity Frequent Flyer to Virgin Atlantic at a 3.6x gross return and live event ticketing business TEG to US tech giant Silver Lake for 2.7x. It also found time to complete a public-to-private transaction for SME lender Scottish Business.

Firm of the Year in China

1. KKR

2. CITIC Capital Partners

3. DCP Capital

KKR has once again claimed the title of Firm of the Year in China, as it did in 2018. The firm undertook several investments over 2019, including the take-private of NVC China, a leading lighting company in the region, the creation of a hospital investment and management platform company, as well as investments in e-commerce business Xingsheng Youxuan and content aggregation firm ByteDance. It also subscribed additional investment to portfolio company Cue & Co, a one-stop technology platform that completed its Series A financing in August.

Firm of the Year in Japan

1. KKR

2. NSSK

3. J-STAR

KKR overtook NSSK this year to be named Firm of the Year in Japan. KKR exited from Kokusai Electric, which produces semiconductor manufacturing equipment, in 2019. In July, materials engineering solutions firm Applied Materials agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Kokusai Electric from KKR for $2.2 billion in cash. Other investments included two bolt-on acquisitions for PHC Holdings: the acquisition and carve out of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Anatomical Pathology business in June, and a stock exchange with Life Science Institute, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, in August.

Firm of the Year in Korea

1. MBK Partners

2. Affinity Equity Partners

3 Hahn & Company

MBK Partners, set up in 2005 by former Carlyle Group Asia executives, bagged a sweet deal in 2019, acquiring a stake in chocolate-maker Godiva’s Asia-Pacific business for a reported $1 billion. The Seoul firm also completed the privatisation of China’s eHi Car Services last April. Meanwhile, MBK collected $850 million for its inaugural special situations fund in February 2019 and has since returned to market seeking $6 billion for its fifth buyout fund targeting North Asia.

Firm of the Year in India

1. Everstone Group

2. ChrysCapital Partners

3. Vidura Capital

Everstone was a picture of health in India last year. The Singaporean firm went continental with its acquisition of Germany’s Translumina, which manufactures cardiac stents in India, in August and is understood to have notched up an impressive 4x multiple and 89 percent internal rate of return from its sale of Mumbai pharma business Rubicon in March.

Firm of the Year in South-East Asia

1. KKR

2. Navis Capital Partners

3. Ekuiti Nasional Berhad

KKR continues its winning streak in South-East Asia. After making its first investment from its Global Impact Strategy at the end of 2018 in Singapore-based energy savings solutions provider Barghest Building Performance, KKR followed with investments across four sectors in the region. Among these were Singapore’s V3 Group, a speciality retailer of luxury lifestyle and wellness products, Asian property technology group PropertyGuru, Philippines-based telecoms and digital services provider Voyager Innovations, as well as Metro Pacific Hospitals, which operates a large private hospital and healthcare network in the Philippines.

Fund of Funds Manager of the Year in Asia

1. LGT Capital Partners

2. HarbourVest Partners

3. Axiom Asia Private Capital

Received wisdom is that investor demand for funds of funds is waning. Try telling that to Switzerland’s LGT Capital Partners, which reached the $1 billion hard-cap on Crown Asia-Pacific Private Equity IV in October with capital from more than 50 institutions. Although busy raising funds of its own, LGT is also understood to have deployed around
$700 million to Asian vehicles and investments. Meanwhile, the firm opened a Bangkok office in March and agreed to purchase a majority stake in the Indian wealth manager Validus Wealth in June.

Placement Agent of the Year in Asia

1. Evercore

2. Campbell Lutyens

3. Eaton Partners

The global investment bank, which has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, raised around $5.2 billion across three Asia buyout funds in 2019. Among these was Korea’s Hahn & Company III, which closed at its $3.2 billion hard-cap against a $2.5 billion target to become the country’s largest dedicated fund to date. Evercore also helped Japan’s J-STAR No.4 reach its ¥48.5 billion ($441 million, €407 million) hard-cap after seven months in the  market.

Law Firm of the Year in Asia (fund formation)

1. Debevoise & Plimpton

2. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

3. Dechert

The law firm’s Asia funds team, led by Hong Kong-based Andrew Ostrognai, is currently advising on more than 25 fund formation matters for clients targeting over $40 billion-worth of commitments. Debevoise & Plimpton’s 2019 work included advising Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan on its investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India. The Canadian pension plan signed an agreement for investments of up to $1 billion with the NIIF Master Fund.

Law Firm of the Year in Asia (transactions)

1. Kirkland & Ellis

2. Clifford Chance

3. Dechert

Kirkland & Ellis has claimed the lead in this category after rising from second place in 2018. The law firm advises more than 450 private equity clients around the world and has acted for a range of private equity firms in Asia.

Recent transaction work includes advising China-focused FountainVest Partners as a member of an investor consortium in the €5.6 billion voluntary public tender offer for all the shares in Finnish business Amer Sports Corporation. In addition to this, Kirkland & Ellis was once again voted Secondaries Law Firm of the Year in Asia.