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PEI Awards 2019: Europe winners

Sister publication Private Equity International's 2019 awards honour the most impressive and innovate secondaries deals, firms, advisors and law firms in Europe.

While North America caught up in volume terms in 2019, Europe’s secondaries market had another good year in terms of the size, quality and innovation of deals that came to market, as Private Equity International‘s 2019 awards show.

The €2 billion restructuring of PAI Europe V, centred on ice cream giant Froneri, the sale of a monster portfolio from Ardian to Strategic Partners and a rapid fundraise from Glendower Capital are among the achievements celebrated in this year’s awards. Here are the winners.

LP Sale of the Year in Europe

1. Ardian, Strategic Partners, Evercore

2. Skandia Asset Management, Ardian, Greenhill

In early 2019, Ardian sold off large chunks of its secondaries vehicles to Strategic Partners in a deal understood to be worth as much as $2 billion. The sale included stakes in GPs such as 3i and Charterhouse Capital Partners, Private Equity International’s sister title Secondaries Investor reported at the time. This was the latest of several portfolios to change hands between Ardian and the Blackstone subsidiary. In 2017, Ardian sold around $800 million of interests at a 2 percent discount to net asset value, Secondaries Investor reported. It is understood Evercore advised on the deal.

GP-led Deal of the Year in Europe

1. AlpInvest Partners, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, HarbourVest Partners, Pantheon and Evercore for PAI Partners

2. Lexington Partners, Adams Street Partners, StepStone Group, Campbell Lutyens for Eurazeo

3. HarbourVest Partners, Hamilton Lane, Moelis for Bridgepoint

Heavily concentrated around a single, high-quality asset in the form of ice-cream maker Froneri, the €2 billion restructuring of PAI Europe V took three lead buyers committing €300 million each, and a total investor base of more than 40 to digest. It priced at a premium and produced a 7x return for departing investors. The deal was the best example yet of a GP using the secondaries market to hold on to a high-quality asset.

Secondaries Firm of the Year in Europe

1. Glendower Capital

2. Ardian

3. HarbourVest Partners

In August, Glendower Capital held a $2.7 billion final close on its first fund since spinning out of Deutsche Asset Management in July 2017. Glendower Capital Secondary Opportunities Fund IV closed above its $2.5 billion hard-cap, becoming one of the largest ever first-time private equity funds. The firm also executed on several high-profile deals, including a £300 million ($392 million; €361 million) single-asset restructuring centred around high-end department store Liberty, owned by London-based buyout firm BlueGem Capital.

Secondaries Law Firm of the Year in Europe

1. Kirkland & Ellis

2. Debevoise & Plimpton

3. Proskauer Rose

A multi-time winner of this award, Kirkland & Ellis had another big year in the European secondaries market. It advised on $10.87 billion of secondaries transactions in Europe in 2019, including nine GP-led deals for a combined $7 billion-plus, six portfolio sales with an aggregate value of $1.4 billion and two preferred equity deals worth more than $1 billion. Among the deals it worked on was the €955 million recapitalisation of Vitruvian Partners’ debut fund, a deal led by Lexington Partners.

Secondaries Advisor of the Year in Europe

1. Campbell Lutyens

2. Evercore

3. PJT Park Hill

In one of the closest-run competitions in the entire process, Campbell Lutyens emerged victorious in Europe, having also won the award in 2018. The firm’s European secondaries team advised on $6.5 billion of deals in 2019, including a strip sale used to seed Eurazeo Capital’s €700 million Fund IV and simultaneous GP-led processes on eight separate vehicles managed by Aberdeen Standard Investments with an aggregate net asset value of €750 million. Around half of LPs took up the offer, which demonstrated a new way for investors in smaller funds to gain liquidity at a good price.