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Five key themes

Five of the biggest developments in the 2020 PDI 50 ranking.

Ares Management holds top spot by expanding its franchise

When we first began compiling the PDI 50 in 2015, Los Angeles-based fund manager Ares Management did not even feature in the top 10

Having worked its way up to number one for the first time last year, it has held on to that place in 2020. One thing that’s clear in an asset class that has proved extremely popular with LPs over the last five years is that you can’t stay on top of the pile by standing still. Ares has certainly not done that, its determination to grow in Asia-Pacific sealed in July by the acquisition of Hong Kong-based fund manager SSG Capital. Can Ares make it three in a row next year? Don’t bet against it. Last month, the firm announced it had raised €7.9 billion of the €9 billion target for its Ares Capital Europe V fund.

Private debt is still a very US-centric asset class

The asset class has been spreading its wings from its roots in the US, but at a slower rate than other alternative asset classes

Whereas the likes of private equity and real estate can be truly described as global, private debt has not really grown beyond the three core regions of North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific. The likes of Africa and Latin America, for example, barely register in terms of capital raised. What’s more, North America has retained a notable dominance, even as Europe continues to grow and Asia-Pacific begins to wake up to the asset class. Out of almost $880 billion of capital in this year’s PDI 50, North America-headquartered funds account for more than $603 billion.

Investors have a large appetite for the Big Apple 

Not only is North America the dominant region for private debt, but New York is very much the dominant city

Even though top spot is taken by Los Angeles-based Ares – and the likes of Dallas, Minneapolis and Washington DC have all become private debt hubs of some scale – New York is way ahead of the rest. Of the $880 billion raised over the five-year period, the Big Apple accounts for well over a third at almost $317 billion. Sandwiching Los Angeles in third place for capital raised are London in second and Paris in fourth, demonstrating that European managers are growing in heft. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Sydney have emerged as significant magnets for private debt capital in Asia-Pacific.

The top brand names maintain their dominance

One of the trends of the last five years has been the emergence of an elite group of managers able to vacuum up investor dollars, and the gap is widening between these blue-chip funds and the rest

There is nothing in this year’s figures to suggest the trend will change anytime soon. With more than $408 billion raised over the five-year period, the top 10 managers account for 46.5 percent of the $880 billion collected by the entire PDI 50. What’s more, the trend may have actually gathered pace this year. As a result of having to conduct due diligence on GPs remotely, many LPs are declining to take a chance on up-and-coming managers. Instead, they are opting to double down on the tried and trusted.

The top 10 doesn’t change that much

As noted above, Ares was not in the top 10 when we drew up our inaugural ranking in 2015, and only crept in at number 10 the following year

However, the top 10 has not seen a great deal of fluidity. The same names keep appearing, albeit in a different order. Back in 2015, Oaktree Capital Management topped the ranking but fell to ninth in 2018 and 2019 before recovering slightly to eighth this year. Lone Star is another manager that had its day in the sun, coming top in 2016 and 2017 but falling down the ranking in the subsequent years and coming ninth this time around.

$408bn

Amount raised by the top 10 managers

$472bn

Amount raised by the other 40 managers

46.4%

Amount of total capital raised accounted for by the top 10 managers

$54.2bn

Amount raised by Ares Management, which came top in the ranking

$5.6bn

Amount raised by Ardian at number 50

$776bn

Total amount raised by the PDI 50 last year

32

Number of managers in the PDI 50 headquartered in North America

18

Number of managers in the PDI 50 headquartered outside North America

$21bn

Total raised by managers in the PDI 50 with headquarters in Asia-Pacific

$1.9bn

Amount separating Ares Management in first place from AXA IM Alts in second