Cogent, Credit Suisse and Park Hill dominate advisory work – exclusive

The trio of advisors brokered circa $25bn in transactions last year, accounting for nearly half of all estimated secondaries market activity.

Together Cogent Partners, Credit Suisse and Park Hill Group advised on more than 100 secondaries transactions, valued at roughly $24.6 billion, in 2014. That accounts for nearly half of total volume last year, based on the $52 billion estimate released this week by fellow broker/advisory firm NYPPEX.

Cogent alone advised on 55 transactions valued at $11 billion in terms of purchase price plus unfunded commitments, according to managing director Todd Miller. In 2013, the firm advised on 30 secondaries deals.

More than 90 percent of Cogent’s deals in 2014 were portfolios of LP stakes and less than 10 percent was other types of transaction including GP restructurings and secondary directs, Miller explained.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse’s deals were split 50:50 between LP-driven secondaries and GP-led transactions, said Mark McDonald, a director in the private fund group.

“We’re seeing more diversity in the types of deals we’re doing, which matches the increasing trend of buyers to be more entrepreneurial and creative.”

Credit Suisse advised on 25 deals, with a total value of $5.5 billion to $6 billion as measured by purchase price plus unfunded commitments.

“We’re probably up one-third on 2013 in terms of deal volume,” said managing director Mike Custar.

About two-thirds of Credit Suisse’s secondaries deals focused on traditional private equity assets, with the remaining split between real estate, infrastructure and hedge funds.

Park Hill advised on 21 transactions valued slightly higher at $7.6 billion, the firm disclosed.

Brokers at the smaller end of the market also recorded a busy year. For example, London-headquartered Elm Capital advised on some 19 deals with original commitments totalling roughly $1.4 billion; London’s Cebile Capital worked on 14 LP transactions, originally valued at $4.5 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2013; and Boston-based Harken Capital Securities advised on three large fund portfolios, a “few” direct secondaries deals and a “handful” of one- or two-off stake sales, with original commitments of $750 million.

Other advisors contacted, including Campbell Lutyens, Evercore, Setter, Triago and UBS, declined to disclose their activity.