The companies and individuals honored by Mergers & Acquisitions’ 9th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards outpaced the competition, expanded their businesses and closed hundreds of deals, even as overall activity in the middle market declined in 2015. David Brackett and John Martin offer shining examples of those who thrived even in uncertain conditions. The co-CEOs spent 20 years nurturing Antares Capital to become the sector’s largest lender. When General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) announced it would divest a wide range of non-core assets, Antares quickly became a coveted acquisition target, attracting many well-heeled suitors. Brackett and Martin steered Antares through the process, continuing its prolific lending and accepting ultimately a $12 billion offer from Canada’s largest pension fund, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), awarding the pair Dealmakers of the Year. Congratulations to all the winners: Deal of the Year: Amazon. The undisputed worldwide leader in cloud computing infrastructure, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) began ramping up M&A in 2015 with the pivotal $500 million purchase of video technology company Elemental Technologies Inc. Dealmakers: David Brackett, John Martin. The co-CEOs spent 20 years nurturing Antares Capital to become the middle market’s largest lender and steered it through the $12 billion sale by General Electric to Canada’s largest pension plan. Private Equity Firm: Audax. The firm soared to new heights, raising its fifth fund, closing 100-plus investments and selling more portfolio companies than most of its competitors. Investment Bank: KeyBanc. The capital markets group increased its private-equity business significantly. Seller: The Riverside Co. The PE firm continues the momentum in exits it began the previous year, making it one of the most prolific sellers of companies in the middle market. Strategic Buyer: Newell Rubbermaid. The company wielded M&A in 2015 to continue fine-tuning its product mix, picking up 65-year-old Elmer’s Products for $600 million and agreeing to buy the owner of Yankee Candle. Law Firm: Milbank. The global firm grew its practice in several ways, hiring more M&A attorneys and advising on some innovative deals, especially in the aviation business. Lender: NewStar. The lender enjoyed unprecedented growth for the firm, increased assets under management, solidified its relationship with GSO Capital Partners and purchased a smaller competitor. For information about how we select the winners, see What Makes a Winner?, including a list of past honorees.