Only one firm took home Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2014 M&A Mid-Market Award for Private Equity Firm of the Year: HGGC. But among the eight awards Mergers & Acquisitions bestowed, we also honored three other PE firms: Huron Capital Partners, the Riverside Co. and Thoma Bravo. All four PE firms thrived in 2014, demonstrating different aspects of dealmaking.
Gretchen Perkins originated the majority of the deals closed by Huron in 2014, which won her Dealmaker of the Year. In addition to recognizing Perkins and Huron, the award highlighted the importance of finding good deals in today’s increasingly competitive PE landscape. Perkins is the first woman chosen as Dealmaker of the Year, reflecting the rise of women among the middle-market ranks. Our Deal of the Year award often goes to a strategic buyer.
Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL) picked up the prize for its acquisition of the Skippy peanut butter brand from Unilever plc (NYSE: UL) in 2013, and Starbucks Corp. (Nasdaq: SBUX) won for the purchase of Teavana Holdings Inc. in 2012. But for 2014, a year that saw heightened competition between private equity firms and strategic buyers, we chose Thoma Bravo for its acquisition of TravelClick in a move that continued the flow of deals involving cloud computing and augured the wave of transactions in travel coming ashore currently in 2015.
Always one of the most active firms in the middle market, the Riverside Co. is a perennial contender for our awards. The firm’s co-CEOs Stewart Kohl and Béla Szigethy won Dealmakers of the Year for 2013, and Riverside won Private Equity Firm of the Year for 2012. For 2014, we honored Riverside with Seller of the Year, recognizing it for closing a whopping 19 portfolio-company sales and delivering the largest return on a deal since the firm’s founding in 1988.
The firm that stood out for its prowess across all aspects of PE dealmaking was HGGC, which won Private Equity Firm of the Year. We were particularly impressed by the firm previously known as Huntsman Gay Global Capital for raising a successful fund after the departure of its eponymous partners. By delivering stellar returns and completing 10 transactions in 2014, HGGC proved its enduring vitality under the leadership of CEO Rich Lawson, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, former Bain Capital executive Greg Benson, and former chief financial officer of Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) Gary Crittenden.
Congrats to all the 2014 winners!