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 the winners of the 2015 Dealmakers of the Year: David Brackett and John Martin, co-CEOs of Antares Capital. 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 for the lender. In April, 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 its purchase of Elmer’s Products Inc.

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. The nomination process opens in December, and the deadline for all nominations is Jan. 31 (no extensions are granted). We announce the winners in the April issue of Mergers & Acquisitions and on our website www.themiddlemarket.com in late March. You can also see the list of past winners.

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 marykathleen.flynn@sourcemedia.com.

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