The winners of Mergers & Acquisitions' 8th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards leveraged the best dealmaking conditions seen in years to outpace the competition and embody the most important trends. Gretchen Perkins, who originated the majority of deals closed in 2014 by thriving lower middle-market firm Huron Capital Partners, won Dealmaker of the Year, illustrating the heightened role deal sourcing plays in today's increasingly competitive private equity industry. Congratulations to all the winners!

What We Look For

The M&A Mid-Market Awards honor the leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in the previous year. 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, ventured into new territories and transformed their businesses. Thought leadership in the industry is also relevant.

A great example of what we look for can be found in HGGC, which won Private Equity Firm of the Year for 2014. By raising a successful new fund, the firm founded in 2007 as Huntsman Gay Global Capital proved it is thriving, despite a change in leadership and a new company name. The investors the firm was named for - Jon Huntsman Sr., chairman of chemical maker Huntsman Corp. (NYSE: HUN), and Robert Gay, a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - have no involvement in the new fund. The quartet running HGGC today includes 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. Proving the team's prowess, the firm has already returned $1.2 billion to investors from its inaugural $1.1 billion fund, which closed in 2009 and still has remaining investments to sell. As the private equity industry matures, smart succession plans will prove crucial for many firms, and HGGC will serve as a model for how to make a smooth transition.

Process Points

To be eligible for the 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.

We encourage nominations, but they are not required. Ultimately, the winners are chosen by our editorial team. Nominations are due Jan. 31. We announce the winners in the April issue of Mergers & Acquisitions and on our website in late March.

In recent years, we have implemented an online system for submitting nominations. Whereas the old system offered little guidance on what information to include in the submission, the e-forms allow us to ask specific questions that will help us compare apples to apples. As folks filled out the e-forms, some had questions, and we were able to make modifications based on this input. Our goal is to make the process as transparent as possible, and we continue to seek your feedback as we improve the system. 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

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