Looking back: Top five fund closes of 2018

Real estate and infrastructure secondaries vehicles gave private equity funds a run for their money this year.

This year has been a big one for fund launches, with more than half of the firms in the SI 30 beginning to fundraise or pre-market for dedicated vehicles.

At least 17 of the 30 largest secondaries firms are in market, seeking a combined $68 billion, according to SI data.

The picture was not as active for final closes. Firms raised at least $26.2 billion in the first three quarters of the year, a 40 percent drop from the $36.7 billion raised as of 30 September last year.

The top five fund closes of the year by size are:
1. Landmark Partners surpassed the $4 billion target of its 16th private equity fund to amass $7 billion in September, including for co-investment vehicles. As of early October Landmark Equity Partners XVI, which took two years to raise, had already committed $2.8 billion across 17 secondaries deals. The fund has a 14 year life with two optional extra years, while a management fee equal to 1 percent of net asset value is charged until year 16 of the fund, according to documents prepared by StepStone for the State of Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds.

2. Landmark was also behind the second-biggest fundraise this year with its $3.3 billion haul for Real Estate Fund VIII, the largest fund raised for the strategy. The vehicle, which is more than twice the size its 2014-vintage predecessor, smashed its $2 billion target and was 42 percent committed across six deals on final close in March.

3. After two and a half years in market Pomona Capital beat the target of its ninth fund to raise $1.8 billion in September. At the time, Pomona Capital IX was already 30 percent committed across 19 deals, chief executive Michael Granoff told Secondaries Investor. Speaking about what the fund will buy, Granoff said deals such as single-asset and fundless sponsor restructurings do not fit Pomona’s risk/reward criteria.

“In general, having been doing this for quite a long time, our data suggests that you don’t get rewarded for moving further out on the risk curve,” he said.

4. Strategic Partners raised $1.75 billion in April for what remains the largest infra secondaries fund. The Blackstone unit hit the hard-cap on Strategic Partners Real Assets II, edging out Ardian’s ASF VII Infrastructure, which closed a year earlier on $1.7 billion, according to Infrastructure Investor data.

On close Real Assets II had completed or partially completed 14 transactions.

5. Portfolio Advisors hit the $1.5 billion hard-cap on its Secondary Fund III in January, beating its $1 billion target. The fund, which closed after around 16 months of fundraising, will allocate around one-quarter to venture and growth strategies and 10 percent to distressed or special situations, according to documents prepared for El Paso City Employees’ Pension Fund.