When it comes to our Annual Awards – read the full award descriptions here – there are years of upsets and years of certainties: 2017 was a bit of both.
After Global Infrastructure Partners closed on the asset class’s biggest infrastructure fund early in the year – raising a whopping $15.8 billion – it will come as little surprise the industry rewarded the New York headquartered fund manager with six trophies in the ninth edition of our global awards. That incredible fundraising was, of course, at the centre of those accolades, helping GIP net three of our equity fundraising awards, but its dealmaking prowess – clinching important energy deals across the globe – was equally rewarded. And deservedly so, since GIP is showing it is not only capable of raising large amounts of money but, perhaps more importantly at a time of record amounts of dry powder, it is able to swiftly invest it, too.
But GIP was not the only fund manager to win big: I Squared Capital and Meridiam had a strong year, too. Trailing just behind with five trophies – including the coveted Deal of the Year, Global gong – I Squared made good on its global tag, criss-crossing the world to close key deals in the transport and telecoms sectors. The latter deserves special mention, though, after it put down circa $1.9 billion to acquire Hong Kong fixed-line business Hutchison Global Communications.
Meridiam again turned in a muscular transport performance, considering many of the year’s biggest greenfield deals were in that sector, but its pioneering achievements in the Middle East and Africa did not go unnoticed by the industry either, as it snapped up our Fund Manager of the Year award for those regions.
If this all reads as if it’s a bit too familiar so far, don’t worry, we also have some upsets. The biggest, arguably, took place in our Debt Fundraising of the Year, Global category, where newcomer Mizuho Global Alternative Investments took the crown from AMP Capital with its inaugural $300 million debt fund, despite AMP Capital’s record $2.5 billion fundraise for its third mezzanine strategy. Just goes to show: everyone loves an underdog.
Campbell Lutyens, usually the recipient of our Placement Agent of the Year, Global award was this year displaced by Evercore Private Funds Group, on the back of a strong fundraising year in the UK and, of course, the $4 billion-plus it’s already helped raised for I Squared Capital’s second infrastructure fund, set to raise as much as $6.5 billion.
KKR, notably absent in past editions of our awards, picked up two trophies this year thanks to its innovative Q-Park acquisition and its work in the telecoms and broadband space. In recognition of the latter’s importance, we created four separate categories to recognise the firms most active in the area. It probably hasn’t escaped you that our Deal of the Year, Global award went to one such transaction. For those harbouring any doubts about the sector, it’s time to acknowledge that it has well and truly arrived.
But the most telling surprise of this awards edition? Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau winning our Personality of the Year, Global trophy by a country mile. Or perhaps that’s not such a surprise, since the Canadian prime minister is one of the few politicians in power today who goes all-in on infrastructure. Considering the asset class’s well-known supply-demand imbalance, the industry certainly needs more political champions like him.