Gathering the best of private equity

The Private Equity International awards each year give the industry a chance to democratically honour the standouts of the private equity community – including GPs, LPs, intermediaries, advisers and affiliates. The outcome is determined entirely by the industry's participants, not our publications' editors, making them the only entirely democratic awards in the industry.

Firms including CVC Capital Partners, Actis, HarbourVest Partners, ICG, MVision, CDH Investments, Lexington Partners and Advent International were among the winners in this year's awards, which were celebrated at London's prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum.

At our Global Winners Celebration, private equity luminaries mingled amid statues of Greek gods and beneath sculptures defying conventional boundaries – a fitting setting for a celebration toasting some of the industry's most prominent names.

Sitting down to dinner in chic surroundings, guests were treated to a thought-provoking address from the evening's keynote speaker, editor of international affairs for the Financial Times, Quentin Peel. Peel gave his prognosis for the future of the European Union amid the rapidly shifting political and economic global landscape.

The audience also heard from PEI Media's Nicholas Lockley and Hannah Coakley, youth ambassador for global charity UNICEF, the main recipient of the £40,000 (€45,000; $64,000) raised during the evening for our PEI Charity Partners II “fund”.

Last, but certainly not least, Jeremy Coller took to the stage to accept the second annual Private Equity Leader award. This is the only award given by the PEI team; every year we pick one individual who we think, over the course of his or her career, has made a crucial contribution to the development of private equity as an industry and an asset class. They have helped private equity grow into the position of influence it occupies today and continue to lead by example. They are people with big ideas, an appetite for risk, and often colourful personalities. Coller, we think, ticks all the boxes.

In his acceptance speech, the founder and chief executive of eponymous secondaries giant Coller Capital said it was a “sign of the times” that a secondaries player should be recognised as this year's leader. True: but it's not just as a market leader in secondaries that the prize was awarded. It was also in recognition of Coller's status as one of the industry's most engaging and influential pioneers – and a worthy successor to last year's Leader, Sir Ronald Cohen.