Veteran GPs triumph in PEI Awards

Apax, KKR, Oaktree and H&F were among the long-established firms taking top honours in the highly regarded Private Equity International Awards 2009.

Apax Partners, Oaktree Capital Management, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Hellman & Friedman were among the private equity industry's standout participants during a challenging 2009, according to more than 130,000 votes cast in the Private Equity International Awards 2009.

Henry Kravis

Hellman & Friedman took the crown for best large-cap firm in North America, making it the second year in a row the mega-firm has won the award. In Europe, Apax Partners fought its way back to the top, dislodging CVC Capital Partners as best large-cap firm, while in Asia, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts took the honours as best large-cap firm, knocking out reigning champion Affinity Equity Partners.

Click here for full coverage of the 2009 winners as published in our Annual Review

These were just a few of the hotly contested races in the Private Equity International Awards 2009. This is the ninth year that PEO and Private Equity International have brought you our highly regarded poll, which is voted on directly by thousands of the industry’s participants around the globe, not a panel of judges.

These awards represent the firms, funds and deals that best survived 2009's turbulent financial and economic conditions. They also showcase those who thrived because of them. Oaktree Capital Management, for example, a firm known for using market dislocation to its advantage, won the most awards of all firms, sweeping the best distressed investor category in all regions as well as the special situations/turnaround category in Asia.

With debt markets bringing the buyout market to a standstill for much of the year, the deal environment in 2009 was challenging, to say the least. Meanwhile, both LPs and GPs encountered more acute liquidity issues, making it clear the secondary market would play an increasing role in private equity portfolio and fund restructurings. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that in Europe readers chose a secondary transaction as private equity deal of the year: Coller Capital’s £50 million acquisition of a 24 percent stake in SVG Capital, which gave Coller increased exposure to Permira funds at a lower-than-average entry point.

The deal taking top honours in North America was similarly reflective of broader market conditions. Five months after a private equity-led syndicate took failed California mortgage lender Indymac private, a heavy hitting consortium of firms looked to repeat the manoeuvre with the rescue of failed Florida bank BankUnited. The $900 million bailout by investors – including The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Centerbridge Partners and WL Ross – stood out to private equity market participants as the region's most impressive deal of 2009. 

Click here for a table of 2009 winners

Asia's top transaction was borne out of Anheuser Busch-InBev's need to divest non-core assets, a need that gave rise to several of the small number of multi-billion private equity deals agreed in 2009. KKR purchased its slice of the global brewer's assets with the $1.8 billion acquisition of South Korea’s Oriental Brewery. It later syndicated half the equity to Asia-focused buyout firm Affinity Equity Partners, gaining a partner with local expertise.

The PEI Awards 2009 feature more than 70 categories across regions including North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.