PDI 100: The year our ranking doubled in size

As we move from 50 fundraisers to 100, investor appetite for private debt is soaring to record levels.

Welcome to the ninth edition of our ranking of private debt’s leading fundraisers over a five-year period. We are proud that this edition is our inaugural PDI 100. Having started with the PDI 30, we progressed to the PDI 50 before making a decision that this year we would be able to justify doubling the size of our list.

In part, the expanded ranking is due to the extremely helpful co-operation of fund managers which have expended time and effort to share with us their data. For this, we are very grateful. It’s also testament to the growing scale of the asset class. In years gone by, the fundraising totals of those outside the top 50 would not have been sufficient to lend their inclusion much credibility. That’s far from the case now.

The capital raised overall this time around is approximately $1.3 trillion, with more than $1 trillion accounted for by the top 50. This is a ground-breaking figure that has been achieved despite the covid-induced difficulties fundraisers have faced since the spring of 2020. The initial assumption was that investors would be very hesitant to make new commitments when they couldn’t meet managers face to face.

But their appetite for the asset class does not appear to have eased in the slightest, and this year’s trillion-busting total is well in excess of the $880 billion figure recorded at this time last year. Indeed, every successive year of our ranking has seen a steady increase in capital inflows. In our first PDI 30 ranking nine years ago, the total raised was a relatively modest $322 billion. In more recent years we saw the total climb to $700 billion in 2018 and $775 billion in 2019.

Ares Management once more tops our ranking, for the third year in a row. The Los Angeles-based manager closed two funds worth more than $16 billion in 2021, ensuring that it moved even further ahead of the chasing pack. Goldman Sachs Asset Management moves up in this year’s ranking from number four to two, while Oaktree Capital Management – which has gone from eighth to fifth – will surely climb even higher in future rankings having closed a new $16 billion fund just before we went to press.

For the next 12 months, the fundraising outlook looks set fair. A more inflationary environment brings with it potential concerns for some areas of investment and opportunities for others. But overall, the appetite for private debt remains as strong as ever.