Vote now in our 2006 awards(2)

As the final week of voting for our Global Private Equity Awards 2006 begins, the competition is hotting up, with the industry preparing to reward the biggest winners of 2006.

As the final deadline approaches for voting in this year’s Global Private Equity Awards, the industry is preparing to recognise the firms who did more than most to make 2006 a record year for the industry.

Our seventh annual poll, which closes at the end of January, is the only industry awards that are voted on directly by the industry, and the only poll that is genuinely global in coverage, with sections dedicated to Europe, North America and Asia. It is also unique in that it is totally independent – there is no sponsorship, and no initial short list.

With just a week of voting left to go, many of the categories remain wide open. Here’s a quick snapshot of the voting so far:

In the heavyweight fight for the buyout firm of the year category, The Blackstone Group is leading the way in North America, just ahead of long-time rival Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. However, Carlyle and Texas Pacific Group, along with late entrant Cerberus, all remain well placed for a late knockout blow. In Europe, Apax and Permira are slugging it out for the title in a hard-fought battle, just ahead of CVC, while in Asia CCMP Capital leads the way from CVC Asia Pacific.

After a strong year for the mid-market across the globe, both the European and US categories are proving very hard-fought. Friedman Fleischer & Lowe is currently pulling away from the chasing pack in the US, while in Europe, 3i and Bridgepoint are proving very difficult to separate. In Asia, HSBC’s private equity arm currently holds the upper hand.

The awards also reflect the resurgence of the venture market, particularly in Europe and the US. In the US, Benchmark and Sequoia are neck-and-neck in the voting for venture capital house of the year, while Esprit has opened a narrow lead over 3i in Europe.

The awards will pick out the big winners in niche markets across the globe – current front-runners include Pacific Equity in Australia, Dubai International Capital in the Middle East, Industri Kapital in the Nordic region, and Mercapital in Spain.

The industry is also recognising the hard work of the advisers that have helped the industry to grow so dramatically. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Debevoise & Plimpton and Clifford Chance are drawing particular plaudits for their legal work, while Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and RBS lead the way in the banking categories.