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Jan. 31 Deadline: Last Chance to Submit Nominations for M&A Mid-Market Awards

Audax Private Equity, led by co-CEO Geoffrey Rehnert, won the 2015 Private Equity Firm of the Year Award. Who should win the 2016 awards?

Mergers & Acquisitions is accepting nominations for our 9th annual M&A Mid-Market Awards. Nominations are due by Tuesday, January 31, 2017. Click here for the nomination form.

The M&A Mid-Market Awards honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market. To determine the winners, Mergers & Acquisitions considers a variety of factors. We look for companies and individuals who overcame the challenges the year brought, embodied the trends of the period and took their businesses to the next level.

Market leadership and performance are important, but league tables aren’t everything. Growth counts for a lot, especially when it outpaces peers and the overall industry. Innovation also counts. We value companies that changed the M&A landscape, expanded into new territories and transformed their businesses. Thought leadership in the industry is also relevant.

Looking at past winners provides a good guide to what we're seeking. David Brackett and John Martin, co-CEOs of Antares Capital, who won Dealmakers of the Year for 2015, offer great examples. The pair built Antares into the largest lender in the middle market over 20 years and steered it through a highly successful sale process. The lender had a strong 2015, but it was also a year of transition. Early in the year, GE (NYSE:GE) announced the sale of most GE Capital assets, including GE Antares, which it had acquired 10 years earlier. After a highly competitive process with many bidders vying for the coveted target, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) won Antares in a $12 billion transaction to form a long-term partnership to grow the business and its product offerings. Today, Antares is thriving and growing.

Another example is Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE: NWL), which won the 2015 Award for Strategic Buyer of the Year. The company wielded M&A in 2015 to fine-tune its product mix, including acquiring Elmer’s Products Inc. In 2016, Newell continued to buy and sell, following up the purchase of Yankee Candle by acquiring WoodWick Candles and selling the Irwin tools brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (NYSE: SWK).

Other examples include Audax Private Equity, which won Private Equity Firm of the Year for 2015, and HGGC, which won Private Equity Firm of the Year for 2014. While activity in the overall middle market slowed down in 2015, Audax soared ahead, raising its fifth fund. The firm, led by co-CEO Geoffrey Rehnert, closed 100-plus investments (including 12 platform acquisitions and 91 add-on deals) and sold more portfolio companies than most of its competitors in 2015. HGGC, founded in 2007 as Huntsman Gay Global Capital raised a second fund in 2014, demonstrating its viability, despite a change in leadership and a new company name. Today, HGGC is run by three of the original founders -- CEO Rich Lawson, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young and former Bain Capital executive Greg Benson -- plus former Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) chief financial officer Gary Crittenden. The Palo Alto, California-based firm continued to soar in 2015 and 2016. In December, HGGC raised a third fund with aggregate capital commitments of $1.84 billion, including $90 million from the firm’s general partners. Fund III was raised in less than 100 days, according to the firm.

We bestow M&A Mid-Market Awards for the following categories:

Deal recognizes a transformative transaction that made a significant impact on the buyer’s strategy and/or sector or overall M&A. The award goes to the buyer. Corporations (strategic buyers) and private equity firms are eligible.

Dealmaker honors an individual who made a significant impact on M&A, or who led a transformative transaction. The award goes to the person who led the deal. Corporate dealmakers, private equity investors, investment bankers, M&A attorneys and advisers are eligible. (Occasionally, we have bestowed on the award on a pair of co-CEOs, as in the case of Antares and also the Riverside Co.)

Private Equity Firm recognizes a PE firm that stood out among all the many superb firms in the middle market. We take into account the acquisitions, exits, fundraising and other activities made by the firm throughout the year. Thought leadership also plays a role, as does growth. The award goes to the firm, and only PE firms are eligible. 

Investment Bank  honors a bank that stood out among all the many superb banks serving the middle market. We take into account the volume of deals advised on, as well as their significance. We also consider the firm’s growth, thought leadership and influence on the M&A industry. The award goes to the bank. Full-service investment banks are eligible.

Seller recognizes a firm that produced stellar exits throughout the year. The award goes to the firm. Private equity firms have traditionally been the winners, but we also consider strategic buyers with superior divestitures.

Strategic Buyer honors a corporation that wielded M&A to transform or significantly expand its business and/or sector or overall M&A. Acquisitions and divestitures emblematic of the company’s M&A strategy and overall M&A trends are considered. The award goes to the company. Corporations are eligible.

Law Firm of the Year recognizes a law firm that stood out among all the many superb law firms serving the middle market. We take into account the volume of deals advised on, as well as their significance. We also consider the firm’s growth, thought leadership and influence on the M&A industry. The award goes to the firm, and law firms are eligible.

Lender of the Year honors a lender that stood out among all the many superb lenders serving the middle market. We take into account the volume of loans made, as well as their significance. We also consider the firm’s growth, thought leadership and influence on the M&A industry. The award goes to the lender, and lenders are eligible.

To be eligible for our awards, deals must meet the following criteria: be valued at or below $1 billion; involve at least one U.S.-based company as buyer or seller; and have been completed by Dec. 31 of the award year (2016 in this case). We encourage nominations, but they are not required. Ultimately, the winners are chosen by our editorial team. The nomination process opens in December, and the deadline for all nominations is Jan. 31. (Note: No extensions are granted). All information submitted should be suitable for publication. (We do not accept information under nondisclosure when selecting award winners.) We announce the winners in the April issue of Mergers & Acquisitions and on our website www.themiddlemarket.com in late March. We’re always looking for input, so if you have any suggestions or questions, please send email to Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn at marykathleen.flynn@sourcemedia.com.

Click here for the nomination form.

 

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