After a turbulent 2020, private equity fundraising returned to form last year on the back of surging investor demand for the asset class. Fundraising hit $733 billion, according to data from Private Equity International – that is over $100 billion more than 2020’s tally and the highest amount since the global financial crisis. Last year’s average fund size also broke records at almost $530 million, compared with $359 million just five years ago. In addition to the buoyant fundraising market, 2021 saw dealmaking ramp up at a blistering pace.

Investors have clearly taken note of private equity’s performance over the past year – 95 percent of respondents to PEI’s LP Perspectives 2022 Study said the asset class met or exceeded its benchmark over the past 12 months and only 8 percent expect it to fall below its benchmark in the year ahead.

Against this backdrop, the annual PEI Awards set out to recognise the industry’s achievements over the past year. In October-November 2021, PEI invited submissions across more than 70 categories, spanning the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as secondaries.

PEI’s editorial team then created a shortlist for each category based on the submissions, their reporting throughout the year and conversations with the market. In December-January, readers were invited to cast their votes on the shortlists, or to add their own suggestions if they felt the rightful winner wasn’t listed. They could only vote once, and they could not vote for themselves or their own firm.

We received a deluge of votes from market participants around the world, and the competition for the top spots remained as fierce as ever. In the pages ahead, you can find out which firms received the most industry votes and emerged as 2021’s award winners. We also reveal PEI’s Game Changer of the Year – the only category selected at the discretion of the editorial team.

Congratulations to the winners and the finalists, and thank you to all those who took the time to cast their votes.