Buyout firms Apax Partners, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and CCMP Capital Asia have all shown that certain mystery factor to win the hearts and minds of voters in the Private Equity International Awards 2007, the only awards for the industry voted on by the industry.
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After two rounds of voting and almost 60,000 votes across 59 categories in December and January, the three firms took the top spot as Buyout Firms of the Year in their respective territories of Europe, North America and Asia.
In the mid-market, 3i drew on the respect of its peers and investors to take the crown in Europe. Mid-market Firm of the Year in North America and Asia went to New Mountain Capital and Affinity Equity Partners, respectively.
Venture capital honours went to Europe's Abingworth; Sequoia Capital managed a double this year taking the award in North America and Asia.
In the deal categories, voters paid tribute to the epic scale of 2007's buyout activity, handing garlands to the mega LBO that nearly never was: HD Supply, which CD&R had to delicately negotiate through the credit crunch. They also commended the deal that some say should never have been: Alliance Boots. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' acquisition of the UK FTSE 100 pharmacy chain was considered by some commentators to be the deal that finally gave LBO bankers indigestion. Its debt is still to be syndicated.
The placement agent awards were split between independent MVision in Europe and the investment bank franchise of Merrill Lynch, which garnered more votes than anyone in both North America and Asia.
In addition to the regional Awards, our editorial team also bestowed ten awards on the firms, deals and people that last year had a profound impact on private equity globally. Some of these Editors' Choice Awards echo the decisions of the voters, while others acknowledge less popular but utterly significant contributions to the industry.
The winner of the Editors' Choice award for Buyout Firm of the Year in 2007 is The Blackstone Group, which had a more significant season than any other player in the industry. Small wonder too that we named the firm’s co-founder Stephen Schwarzman the industry's Most Influential Person.
Blackstone’s initial public offering, record breaking fundraising and $3 billion Chinese tie-up won them their awards. Blackstone’s year was nothing but larger than life and even its problems were on an epic scale: the share price of its management company has nearly halved since going public.
The editors also decided to single out 3i after a strong year in the mid-market, maintaining its global investment activity throughout the year while others stumbled.
UK buyout firm Terra Firma’s EMI deal scooped the editor’s prize for Best Transaction – because we were impressed with the firm’s daring vision to try to change the music industry as we know it.
Best Newcomer in the Editors’ Choice was the China Investment Corporation. The $200 billion sovereign wealth fund stormed onto the scene with its sensational purchase of a stake in Blackstone’s management company.
Also in the Editor’s Choice, Index Ventures won Best Venture Firm, Coller Capital came top in the Secondaries field, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan carried off Best Limited Partner, Advent International landed Best Fundraising and HarbourVest won Best Fund of Funds.