PEI Awards 2019: EMEA winners

Find out who took the plaudits in Fund, Deal and Exit of the Year, plus the different markets and geographies across the region.

Large-cap Firm of the Year in Europe

1. EQT

2. CVC Capital Partners

3. Nordic Capital

EQT impressed with its listing on Nasdaq Stockholm in September at a market cap of €6 billion. Shares soared 25 percent on the first day of trading and have continued to climb steadily, as of the time of writing.

EQT also closed its second Ventures fund in 2019 after securing commitments totalling €660 million. The raise surpassed the fund’s predecessor, EQT Ventures I, which secured €566 million in 2016. EQT Ventures II will target early-stage funding rounds in Europe and US founders looking to scale into Europe.

Mid-market Firm of the Year in Europe

1. Inflexion Private Equity

2. Oakley Capital

3. Investindustrial

Not only did the firm celebrate its 20th anniversary last year, it also closed two new funds at their hard-caps in under 10 weeks. The final close of both Inflexion Enterprise Fund V at £400 million ($517 million; €479 million) and Inflexion Supplemental Fund V at £600 million were announced in May. Both funds will invest across all sectors. In the 12 months to 30 June 2019, it conducted 10 new investments and 46 add-on acquisitions.

Limited Partner of the Year in Europe

1. European Investment Fund


3. Bpifrance

The European Investment Fund, a long-time backer of mid-market and emerging managers in the region, committed to more than 30 equity funds last year. Among these were Mid Europa Fund V and IK Minority Partnership I Fund.

In July, PEI’s sister publication Secondaries Investor learnt that the EIF had launched a secondaries fund in March 2019 with a target of €200 million and hard-cap of €300 million.

Deal of the Year in EMEA

1. EQT and ADIA for Galderma (Nestlé Skin Health)

2. Apax Partners, Warburg Pincus, CPPIB, OTPP for Inmarsat

3. Thoma Bravo for Sophos

A consortium led by EQT and ADIA subsidiary, Luxinva, came out on top in the bidding process for Switzerland-headquartered Nestlé Skin Health, entering exclusive negotiations for its acquisition in May 2019. The consortium, which also included institutional investors such as PSP Investments, concluded one of Europe’s stand-out PE acquisitions in October at a value of SFr10.2 billion ($10.1 billion; €9.6 billion). Rebranded as Galderma following the transaction’s completion, the company intends to expand its footprint, particularly in the US and China.

Exit of the Year in EMEA

1. KKR for Trainline

2. 3i for Action

3. Aurelius Equity Opportunities for Solidus Solutions

UK-based Trainline made its debut on the London Stock Exchange in June at £3.50 a
share with a market cap of £1.68 billion ($2.2 billion, €2 billion). The share price closed at £4.11 on the first day of trading, pushing the firm’s market valuation towards the
£2 billion mark.

KKR acquired a majority stake in the online rail ticket retailer in January 2015 and Trainline’s growth trajectory accelerated in the following years. KKR exited via sell downs in September and November.

Fundraise of the Year (EMEA)

1. Permira VII

2. CVC Strategic Opportunities II

3. The Seventh Cinven Fund

After starting the fundraising process in January 2019, the firm closed Permira VII at its
€11 billion hard-cap in October. This is almost 50 percent larger than Permira VI, which closed at €7.5 billion in 2016. Commitments for the new buyout fund came from existing investors as well as new investors across previously untapped regions.

Permira VII will target the firm’s key industries, including technology, consumer, financial services, healthcare, industrial tech and services.

Firm of the Year in Africa

1. Helios Investment Partners

2. Development Partners International

3. AfricInvest

Helios Investment Partners took the lead in this category by quite some distance. The Africa-focused private equity firm acquired a 96.7 percent stake in the Egyptian breeder and producer of agricultural seeds, Misr Hytech, alongside the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund in June. It went on to announce its partial exit from electronic payments platform Fawry, which listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange in August, and capped off 2019 with its exit from Nigeria’s Eland Oil & Gas.

Firm of the Year in Benelux

1. Waterland Private Equity Investments

2. Equistone Partners Europe

3. Core Equity Holdings

Buy and build specialist Waterland Private Equity Investments comes back in the 2019 awards as Firm of the Year in Benelux after being unseated in 2018 by IK Investment Partners. The Dutch firm made 12 platform investments last year including in radar systems manufacturer Intersoft Electronics and business software companies Ad Ultima Group and Pylades, as well as 85 add-ons. In November, Waterland opened an outpost in Dublin, its ninth office in Europe, following the completion of its first Irish platform investment, Silver Stream Healthcare Group.

Firm of the Year in CEE

1. Mid Europa Partners

2. Horizon Capital


The CEE region has been on a growth trajectory in recent years, with fundraising and deal volumes hitting record highs in 2019. One firm that has seen it all and emerged as one of its leading investment houses is Mid Europa Partners, our winner for the eighth consecutive year in CEE. The firm made three acquisitions last year: Croatian bakery and retail business Mlinar, software services company intive, and Polish water company Jurajska as an add-on. The firm also completed three exits and opened an office in Bucharest, Romania.

Firm of the Year in France

1. Ardian

2. Eurazeo

3. Equistone Partners Europe

Ardian returns once more as the leader in French private equity. Ardian sealed nine investments across its growth, buyouts and co-investment funds in France in 2019, including stakes in specialty logistics company Staci and SaaS software publisher Eloquant. All this was while raising its seventh flagship buyout fund targeting €6 billion and at least $18 billion for its latest secondaries vehicle. The firm also held a €2.5 billion final close for its fifth co-investment fund, attracting commitments from more than 190 global LPs.

Firm of the Year in Germany

1. Partners Group

2. YIELCO Investments AG

3. Oakley Capital

Partners Group beat homegrown firm YIELCO for this year’s best firm in Germany. A first time-winner for Germany, Partners last year acquired a majority stake in one of the country’s largest toy manufacturers, Schleich, from Ardian. Although financial details of the deal were not disclosed, the Swiss firm is set to grow the brand internationally, support its online capabilities and invest in new product development for its core figurine and playset product offerings.

Firm of the Year in Iberia

1. The Carlyle Group

2. Portobello Capital

3. Investindustrial

It was a tight race among Firm of the Year contenders in Iberia, but global buyout shop The Carlyle Group came out on top. The firm took part in the largest Spanish private equity deal of 2019, bringing together capital from three different funds to acquire a 37 percent stake in Compañía Española de Petróleos, on an enterprise value of $12 billion from majority shareholder Mubadala. Carlyle also sold food company Grupo Palacios to MCH Private Equity, Ardian and co-investors in April 2019.

Firm of the Year in Italy

1. Investindustrial

2. Ambienta

3. Tikehau Capital

Investindustrial closed its €3.75 billion seventh buyout fund, beating its €3 billion target and making it one of the key European fundraisings of 2019.

The group’s Italian investments during the year included Italcanditi, a supplier of fruit-based ingredients for the food and dairy industries, and manufacturer of vitamins and supplements Procemsa. Outside of Italy, the firm bought hot-tub maker Jacuzzi, British sports car brand Morgan, private label chocolate maker Natra and surfaces producer Neolith and fertility group Ginefiv.

Firm of the Year in MENA

1. Investcorp

2. Mediterrania Capital Partners


Investcorp continues its reign as Firm of the Year in MENA. The Bahrain-listed firm had a busy 2019 – chief among its milestones was the acquisition of Mercury Capital Advisors, bringing an extra 50 placement agents onto its distribution platform. It also acquired Kuwait’s International Inspection Center (Intrex) through portfolio company NDT and signed a structured secondaries transaction with HarbourVest on its $1 billion MENA private equity portfolio. It also entered the infrastructure space via a joint venture with Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Firm of the Year in the Nordics

1. EQT

2. Nordic Capital

3. Triton

Winner for the fourth consecutive year, Swedish giant EQT’s main highlight last year was its successful listing on Nasdaq Stockholm, marking the beginning of a new growth story for the firm. EQT also made 10 investments/exits in the Nordics in 2019, including a partial exit in pest control company Anticimex to Singapore investor GIC and other LPs. Among its acquisitions via its flagship, mid-market Europe and infrastructure funds were Karo Pharma, Coromatic Group and WS Audiology.

Firm of the Year in Switzerland

1. Partners Group

2. Capvis

3. Montana Capital Partners

For the third year in a row, Partners Group has come out on top among Swiss firms.
In 2019, the firm expanded its global reach, with investments in Latin America, the US,
China and Australia as well as capital raises for the next generation of its flagship programmes. In Europe, the firm completed its acquisition of German toy manufacturer Schleich and exited Dutch catering group Vermaat and European discount retailer Action. Headquartered in Switzerland, the firm now has more than 1,400 staff globally and an AUM
of $94 billion.

Firm of the Year in the UK

1. CVC Capital Partners

2. Hg

3. Cinven

Buyout giant CVC completed two deals in the UK last year: an investment in aeronautics products manufacturer Ontic, acquired for an enterprise value of $1.37 billion with a view to supporting growth and the development of the business; and a stake in Premiership Rugby, where CVC will be responsible for all aspects of governance, regulation, delivery and promotion of club competitions. CVC currently supports 12 companies in the UK across the retail, pharmaceutical, media, infrastructure, energy, business services and IT sectors. These employ over 18,000 people.

Fund of Funds Manager of the Year in EMEA

1. Altamar Capital Partners

2. Aberdeen Standard Investments

3. HarbourVest Partners

Spain’s Altamar Capital Partners claimed the top spot this year by quite some distance. Over the course of 2019, the firm launched its fourth global secondaries fund targeting €750 million. This follows the launch of global buyout fund Altamar X in 2018. The firm, which celebrated its 15th anniversary last year, has grown its team to more than 160 globally, including more than 50 investment professionals, with offices in Spain, Chile and the US.

Placement Agent of the Year in EMEA

1. Campbell Lutyens

2. Rede Partners

3. PJT Park Hill

After being named Placement Agent of the Year in this region in the 2018 awards, Campbell Lutyens has maintained its lead into 2019. Notable fund closings include Bowmark Capital VI, which reached its £600 million ($780 million; €704 million) hard-cap in just 10 weeks; Xenon Private Equity’s €300 million buyout fund, Xenon Private Equity VII; and the €2.5 billion Eurazeo Capital IV investment programme, which held its final close in July, raising around €700 million of third-party capital.

Law Firm of the Year in EMEA (fund formation)

1. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

2. Debevoise & Plimpton

3. Goodwin Procter

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett moved up from second to first place in this category over the past year on the back of its advisory role in some of Europe’s most significant fund formations. It acted as sponsor counsel on raises such as the Seventh Cinven Fund, which closed in May 2019 after it reached its €10 billion hard-cap in under four months, as well as Carlyle Group’s €6.4 billion Carlyle Europe Partners V fund, which exceeded its target by almost €1 billion.

Law Firm of the Year in EMEA (transactions)

1. Kirkland & Ellis

2. Clifford Chance

3. Proskauer Rose

Kirkland & Ellis strengthened its presence in Europe in 2019 by opening a Paris office, adding to the 300 lawyers working across its London and Munich locations. Notable transaction work in the region included advising a consortium comprising Apax, Warburg Pincus, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan on taking British satellite communications group Inmarsat private, as well as advising Blackstone, also as part of a consortium, on its cash offer for Merlin Entertainments.

Lender of the Year in EMEA

1. Park Square Capital

2. Ares Management

3. Tikehau Capital

Park Square Capital stood ahead of the pack last year among lenders in Europe, unseating consecutive winner Ares Management.

The London-based firm invested $3 billion in 54 European and US companies in 2019, including $2.1 billion in senior debt strategies and $900 million in junior debt strategies, while boosting its investment team to 36 across four offices. Its high-profile deals last year included financing the sale of the Nestlé Skin Health business to a consortium led by EQT Partners and Abu Dhabi’s ADIA.