First Round: the wine flows at the ACG

Deal making and wine making go hand-in-hand, right? At the risk of trying to crowbar in a tortuous analogy, First Round firmly believes that waiting for a nice wine to mature is akin to waiting for the right private equity deal to come to fruition.

So it was interested to note that deal makers won’t have to wait five to seven years to taste the fruits of their respective labours, because on 12 November at New York City’s Gotham Hall the New York chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is hosting its annual private equity wine-tasting gala. The popular shindig draws up to 900 participants from the US buyout community to sample the delights of over 100 varietals from 46 tables sponsored by US private equity groups.

The event allows participants to sample diverse wines from local and global producers, ranging from Californian Cabs to Italian Chiantis. But, while wine may be the guest of honour, there is plenty more at stake. According to ACG’s gala event brochure, this is also the place “where deals happen”. Indeed, it adds: “The guiding spirit of our event can be evoked by the ancient Latin expression ‘In Vino Veritas’” which as everyone knows, translates as “In wine, truth”.

The growth of ACG’s annual event is testament to the evolution of mid-market private equity over almost 15 years. When ACG first began its wine tasting get together at the New York Athletic Club 13 years ago, it drew about 300 participants from across the private equity and M&A community, with the gala’s early years being more East Coast-focused rather than the nationwide iteration of today.

Private equity groups hosting tables at this year’s event include Audax Group, Blue Wolf Capital Partners, Corinthian Capital, Gryphon Investors, HIG Capital, ICV Partners, Kohlberg & Co, Riverside Company and many more. While it would love to be party to the various ‘truths’ divulged on the night itself, First Round fervently hopes the respective deal makers don’t leave the entry multiple haggling until they are six deep in a particularly earthy Rioja…