Size isn’t everything, so they say, yet it is important enough to readers of Secondaries Investor to make the SI 50 ranking among the most-read pieces. This year’s, the second since the expansion of the ranking from 30 firms to 50, is noteworthy.
For the first time since inception in 2016, Ardian is not in first place. Top spot is taken by Blackstone Strategic Partners, which raised $12 billion more over the past five years than its Paris-based counterpart. Goldman Sachs Asset Management holds steady in third.
In April, Blackstone hit $14 billion on its ninth flagship secondaries fund, bringing it level with Ardian’s and Lexington Partners’ most recent offerings as the largest yet raised. Strategic Partners IX is expected to close on $20 billion later this year, according to president and chief operating officer Jon Gray. The asset manager is also in market targeting $2 billion for a fund dedicated to GP-led secondaries deals.
While a milestone, it is too early to say what Blackstone’s ascension means. Ardian and Blackstone have multiple secondaries products and market timing plays a role in how firms rank. The most intriguing – and perhaps most significant – stories can be found lower down the ranking.
The biggest riser in the top 10, StepStone Group, got there by closing a $2.6 billion venture capital secondaries fund. VC Secondaries Fund V is managed by the team from Greenspring Associates, which StepStone acquired last year and whose last pre-acquisition fund was $800 million. It shows the distribution benefits that M&A can bring and just how much the VC secondaries market has grown.
“We just reviewed a $1 billion venture secondary transaction,” one VC secondaries buyer told Secondaries Investor. “If you’d told me 10 years ago there would be a $1 billion secondary venture transaction, I would be like, ‘That doesn’t make any sense. Who owns that much?’”
Brookfield Asset Management entered the real estate secondaries market in 2020 and has raised at least $1.9 billion for its first fund. This puts the listed Canadian giant at 35th on the ranking, in which it appears for the first time. With an infrastructure secondaries fund in the works and a private equity offering to follow, expect Brookfield to climb into the top half of the table next year.
Another new entrant, BEX Capital, showed you can make a mark investing in a niche of a niche. In March, the Nice-headquartered firm raised $765 million to invest in secondaries funds, funds of funds and co-investment vehicles, helping it place 43rd. Hollyport Capital, whose bread and butter remains mature LP portfolios, was one of the biggest risers on the list, showing there is still room for secondaries done the old-fashioned way.
Churchill Asset Management is, as far as Secondaries Investor observes, the first SI 50 firm to be created by way of a secondaries deal. The Nuveen subsidiary’s debut fund was seeded by the $1.2 billion acquisition of a US mid-market private equity portfolio off its own balance sheet, underwritten by Ardian.
As investment bank Evercore points out in its half-year report, seven buyers account for 55 percent of all secondaries dry powder, in keeping with the way things have been for more than a decade. Look closely, though, and it’s clear there are plenty of firms forging their own paths and succeeding in doing so.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org