Large-Cap Firm of the Year in North America

1. Thoma Bravo
2. KKR
3. Advent International

Thoma Bravo surged up the shortlist to take the award for Large-Cap Firm of the Year in North America. The software specialist returned to market targeting $22 billion less than a year after closing a $17.8 billion predecessor, Private Equity International reported. Eye-catching acquisitions in 2021 included California software business Medallia in a $6.4 billion deal, while exits included the successful IPOs of software provider MeridianLink and edtech business Instructure. The listings valued the businesses at $2.1 billion and $2.9 billion, respectively.

Mid-Market Firm of the Year in North America

1. TA Associates
2. Oak Hill Capital
3. Thomas H Lee Partners

TA Associates took the North America mid-market prize for 2021, having also won it in 2019. Last year, the Boston-based firm closed its 14th fund on its $12.5 billion hard-cap, while successfully raising a second Select Opportunities fund, a $1.5 billion vehicle that doubles down on existing portfolio companies. The firm returned a record amount to LPs, exiting businesses such as software company Mitratech to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and skincare brand Paula’s Choice to Unilever.

Limited Partner of the Year in North America

1. Kaiser Permanente
2. California Public Employees’ Retirement System
3. Alaska Permanent Fund

A first-time winner of this year’s award, Kaiser Permanente’s private equity business has scaled rapidly since its launch in 2019. The healthcare plan provider invested $12 billion in private equity during 2021, bringing its net asset value from $6 billion in September 2019 to $33 billion today, split between buyout, growth venture and private credit. It has also anchored several first-time funds that later received support from blue chip institutional investors, and launched a prolific co-investment platform.

Deal of the Year in North America

1. Blackstone, Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman for Medline
2. Thoma Bravo for Proofpoint
3. Hg, Generation Investment Management and TPG Rise Fund for Benevity

Given the events of the last two years, it seems apt that a healthcare deal should win this award. In June 2021, three of the biggest names in private equity combined to take a majority stake in Medline, the largest privately-held distributor and manufacturer of healthcare supplies, which produced revenues of $17.5 billion in 2020. The deal valued the company at around $32 billion, making this the largest buyout since 2008 and one of the biggest healthcare deals ever.

Exit of the Year in North America

1. TPG for McAfee
2. KPS for TaylorMade Golf Company
3. EQT for Aldevron

TPG’s investment in McAfee was a good example of embracing complexity to drive value. TPG first invested in the cybersecurity business in 2017 through a carve-out from Intel. It subsequently took it public, sold its enterprise security division for $4 billion and then, in 2021, sold the remaining listed business – in which it was still a substantial shareholder – in a take-private. At the time of the announcement, the sponsor believes that it was the largest cybersecurity M&A deal ever by total enterprise value at more than $14 billion.

Fundraise of the Year (Americas)

1. Hellman & Friedman
2. Arctos Sports Partners
3. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice

Last year, Hellman & Friedman raised one of the largest ever private equity funds. It collected $24.4 billion for Fund X after only six months on the road, a 53 percent increase on its 2018-vintage Fund IX. The firm had been targeting $20 billion with a hard-cap of $22 billion, PEI reported at the time of final close in July. Hellman itself is the largest investor in the fund, committing $1.8 billion.

Distressed Debt Investor of the Year in North America

1. Oaktree Capital Management
2. Ares Management
3. Apollo Global Management

Distressed Debt Investor of the Year winner Oaktree Capital surged into the top three spots in 2021 to claim first place. The firm closed the largest known dedicated pool of capital to date for a distressed debt strategy at $15.9 billion for Oaktree Opportunities Fund XI in 2021, surpassing its $15 billion target. The fund was nearly twice as large as the predecessor fund, Oaktree Opportunities Fund XB, which closed on $8.9 billion.

Firm of the Year in Canada

1. Brookfield Asset Management
2. Whitehorse Liquidity Partners
3. Altas Partners

The Canadian juggernaut has won this award four years running, continuing its strong momentum in alternatives. It launched a climate impact fund to accelerate the transition to a net-zero carbon economy, for which it has raised at least $7 billion so far. The firm continues to broaden its private equity franchise through Brookfield Growth Partners, a tech-focused growth strategy, and Brookfield Special Investments, a large-scale non-control strategy. In secondaries, Brookfield recently passed the halfway mark for its real estate strategy.

Fund of Funds Manager of the Year in North America

1. HarbourVest Partners
2. AlpInvest Partners
3. Adams Street Partners

In the past 12 months, five-year reigning champion HarbourVest Partners raised $6.34 billion in the Americas, $11.79 billion globally, and saw final closes for its $833 million credit opportunities fund and $892 million direct lending fund. The firm opened an office in Frankfurt, its first in mainland Europe, and launched its fifth Asian base in Singapore during the year. The Boston-headquartered firm has been involved in several noteworthy secondaries transactions in Asia, including a $600 million-plus yuan-to-dollar restructuring.

Firm of the Year in Latin America

1. Advent International
2. L Catterton
3. StepStone

Boston-headquartered Advent is once again Firm of the Year in Latin America. It has raised approximately $8 billion for the region since 1996. Last year, the firm made a $430 million investment in Brazil-based cross-border payment platform Ebanx and acquired the Latin American operations of pharmaceutical business Perrigo Company. Boasting four offices and 40 investment professionals, the firm has the largest dedicated private equity team operating in the region.

Placement Agent of the Year in North America

1. Evercore
2. PJT Park Hill
3. Credit Suisse Private Fund Group

Evercore is no stranger to this honour, taking home the award for a fourth consecutive year. The investment bank held final closes for nine North American buyout funds in 2021, for a total closed amount of $20.7 billion. Each of those funds hit its hard-cap; notably, Genstar Capital Partners Fund X with $10.2 billion of committed capital against an $8 billion target over an entirely virtual four-month fundraise.

Law Firm of the Year in North America (Fund Formation)

1. Kirkland & Ellis
2. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
3. Debevoise & Plimpton

For the fourth straight year, Kirkland & Ellis reigns supreme in this category. The firm counselled clients on more than 600 funds closed and in progress, exceeding $790 billion in total commitments. The firm was retained by more than 160 new investment funds clients during the covid-19 dislocation. Kirkland’s investment funds group also dedicated more than 8,000 hours of pro bono services in the last 12 months. Clients include Blackstone, Clearlake Capital Partners and Whitehorse Liquidity Partners, to name but a few.

Law Firm of the Year in North America (Transactions)

1. Kirkland & Ellis
2. Ropes & Gray
3. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

This year represents Kirkland’s second consecutive win in this category. Between Q1 and Q3 2021, Kirkland advised on 278 deals globally, with total deal values of around $213 billion, and 209 deals in the US worth a total of $134.6 billion, according to Mergermarket data. The firm advised on multiple SPAC deals and continuation fund transactions and has continued its ESG work via processes involving battery swapping ecosystems, electric performance cars and the energy transition.

Lender of the Year in North America

1. Ares Management
2. Blackstone Credit
3. Vista Credit Partners

This is the third year in a row that Ares has been crowned Lender of the Year in North America. Last year, the firm raised $23.5 billion in new equity and debt commitments across its US direct lending vehicles in the 12 months to the end of September, including $5.1 billion for its flagship junior capital direct lending strategy. The oversubscribed Ares Private Credit Solutions II fund surpassed its $4 billion target and is around 50 percent larger than its 2017 predecessor fund.