Lender of the year

1. Monroe Capital
2. Golub Capital
3. Churchill Asset Management

Despite the pandemic, Monroe Capital completed 37 directly originated deals worth more than $1 billion in 2020. The firm also expanded its opportunistic private credit strategy, growing the team and closing eight deals worth more than $270 million. Monroe also continued to grow its private BDC vehicle throughout the year.

The Chicago-based fund manager had raised more than half of its $1.5 billion target for its Monroe Capital Private Credit Fund IV by December. The successor to Monroe Capital Private Credit Fund III has $855 million in equity commitments, and has already invested 37.5 percent of its capital in 16 positions in US lower mid-market direct loans.

Senior lender of the year

1. Golub Capital
2. Ares Management
3. Adams Street Partners

Digital winners: Golub Capital gained from the strength of the B2B software market

Golub Capital raised more than $8 billion in new investor equity and debt over the past 12 months. It also originated more than 140 mid-market loans totalling around $12.2 billion of financing commitments. The firm also led or co-led 12 unitranches above $500 million and led the two largest dollar-denominated unitranches to date at more than $2 billion each.

David Golub, president of Golub Capital, said he is proud of the way his firm has risen to the challenge of covid-19: “Over 80 percent of the portfolio is in areas like business-to-business software that have continued to perform well and grow despite covid,” he told Private Debt Investor.

Junior lender of the year

1. HPS Investment Partners
2. Churchill Asset Management
3. Star Mountain Capital

New York-based HPS Investment Partners closed its Mezzanine Partners 2019 Fund on $9 billion, beating a target of $8 billion and becoming one of the largest-ever funds dedicated to subordinated debt.

The fund was wrapped up amid a virtual standstill for subordinated debt fundraising in general as the covid-19 outbreak led to a cautious stance from LPs. The HPS mezzanine fund will have $11 billion of capital to invest, including a $2 billion borrowing facility. The fund has already invested about 50 percent of its capital.

In 2020, the manager’s private credit platform invested more than $12 billion in 54 portfolio companies, according to a statement by HPS.

Lower mid-market lender of the year

1. Monroe Capital
2. Twin Brook Capital Partners
3. MGG Investment Group

The Chicago-based fund manager held a second close on its Monroe Capital Private Credit Fund IV in December, having raised $855 million of its $1.5 billion target. The fund, a successor to Monroe Capital Private Credit Fund III, is targeting returns of 6-9 percent, unlevered, and 9-12 percent, levered, and already has invested more than a third of its capital in US lower mid-market direct loans.

That together with the eight deals worth more than $270 million in its opportunistic private credit strategy and continued growth of its private BDC vehicle marked a stellar 2020 for Monroe Capital.

Business development company of the year

1. Ares Capital Corporation
2. Owl Rock Capital Partners
3. FS/KKR Capital Corp

In a market characterised by newer arrivals, Ares’ publicly traded direct lending vehicle, Ares Capital Corporation, continues to set the standard for business development companies.

The industry’s largest BDC has invested $60 billion in 1,400 transactions since 2004 and its portfolio had a fair value of around $14.4 billion on 30 September 2020. Since inception, ARCC’s asset-level gross IRR on realised investments stands at 14 percent.

Distressed debt investor of the year

1. Oaktree Capital Management
2. GoldenTree Asset Management
3. Värde Partners

Oaktree Capital Management came back into the market in 2020 with its Opportunities Fund XI, including a planned commitment of $300 million from Minnesota State Board of Investment.

Oaktree’s Fund X closed on $3.6 billion in 2016 and its Fund Xb on about $8.9 billion in 2017. The distressed and special situations investor climbed one place this year to eighth in our PDI 50 of the biggest private debt fundraisers, with $31.1 billion raised over a five-year period.

CLO manager of the year

1. Monroe Capital
2. Oak Hill Advisors
3. GoldenTree Asset Management

Monroe Capital’s CLO platform, launched in 2006, has $3.2 billion in AUM. In August 2020, Monroe closed the $406.27 million Monroe Capital MML CLO X, a term financing secured by a portfolio of mid-market senior secured loans.

The term financing was Monroe’s fifth CLO completed since March 2018 and is secured by a portfolio of mid-market senior secured loans. “Through discipline, we stay aligned with our borrowers and LPs, and our experience tells us that it’s during these periods of uncertainty that we can forge stronger relationships,” Michael Egan, Monroe’s chief credit officer, told Private Debt Investor.

Infrastructure debt manager of the year

1. Brookfield Asset Management
2. BlackRock
3. Global Infrastructure Partners

In the fast lane: Brookfield exceeded the $1.75 billion target for its second infrastructure debt fund

By October 2020, the Toronto-based manager had reportedly exceeded the $1.75 billion target for its second infrastructure debt fund, raising approximately $3 billion in hard and soft commitments, according to sister title Infrastructure Investor.

Around $610 million had been committed by 12 Korean institutional LPs through a fund of funds structure. Another $600 million has been committed by non-Korean institutional investors.

Real estate debt manager of the year

1. Blackstone
2. KKR
3. Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors

Sky high: Blackstone raised the largest-ever real estate credit fund

The private markets giant held a final close of its Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies IV fund on $8 billion in September 2020, the largest real estate credit fund ever raised and worth substantially more than the firm’s $4.5 billion predecessor.

The fund focuses on public and private debt deals globally, but with an emphasis on the US. “The covid crisis amplified significant shifts already underway in real estate and created market dislocation that should result in attractive opportunities for BREDS,” said Jonathan Pollack, global head of Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies.

Deal of the year

1. Owl Rock Capital Partners (Checkmarx)
2. Antares Capital (ProAmpac)
3. Oak Hill Advisors (TIBCO)

In April 2020 Hellman & Friedman and TPG (minority) completed the acquisition of Checkmarx, a software security firm, with Owl Rock Capital Partners providing a first lien recurring revenue credit facility.

The deal was one of few being done at the height of the pandemic and amid great economic uncertainty – but in a sector that looks to have a solid future. Craig Packer, co-founder of Owl Rock, said covid-19 had restricted deal opportunities.

“It’s an extremely challenging time, and our overall disposition is to be incredibly cautious in deploying capital,” Packer told Reuters in April.

Fundraising of the year

1. KKR
2. Perceptive Advisors
3. HPS Investment Partners

Global investment giant KKR closed a new dislocation-focused strategy on $4.0 billion, raising $2.8 billion for its KKR Dislocation Opportunities Fund and more than $1.1 billion for separately managed accounts that will be committed to the same investment opportunities.

The fundraising was wrapped up in a lightning-fast eight weeks. KKR believes volatility is set to continue into 2021.

“This backdrop makes us bullish, as it presents global allocators of capital with opportunities to take advantage of dislocations and dispersion,” said KKR’s Henry McVey in his December 2020 global macro outlook report, which named dislocation as one of KKR’s six themes for 2021.

Investor of the year

1. Florida State Board of Administration
2. California Public Employees’ Retirement System
3. California State Teachers’ Retirement System

The Florida pension fund became a big advocate for distressed debt funds in 2020. In the third quarter it committed $1.8 billion through its strategic investments asset class, which includes debt investments, to the likes of Apollo Global Management, Audax Group and Oak Hill Advisors.

The pension fund predicted “mini cycles” of distress over the next few years.

Law firm of the year

1. Kirkland & Ellis
2. Dechert
3. Proskauer Rose

Sign here: Kirkland & Ellis advised on a host of North American fundraising mandates in 2020

Kirkland & Ellis advised on a host of North American fundraising mandates in 2020. Although many are confidential, they included the Ares Special Opportunities Fund, which had a target of $2 billion but closed on $3.5 billion.

Kirkland & Ellis also advised Owl Rock Capital Partners on its $1 billion strategic partnership with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, a leading US pension fund.

Placement agent of the year

1. Campbell Lutyens
2. Pinnacle Trust Partners
3. FocusPoint Private Capital Group

Campbell Lutyens transacted $22.3 billion across fund placement and secondaries advisory in 2020. Among its North American private debt mandates were Angel Island Capital’s $436 million Credit Opportunities Fund II and White Oak’s inaugural ESG lending fund. The firm also represents Benefit Street Partners.

Specialty finance lender of the year

1. Blackstone Credit
2. Perceptive Advisors
3. White Oak Global Advisors

Blackstone Credit’s Structured Products Group invests in privately originated securities backed by a variety of physical or financial contracted, cashflowing collateral. The team also opportunistically deploys capital into broadly and narrowly syndicated investments. By the end of October 2020 the SPG had committed $1.75 billion in 19 deals year-to-date.

Fund financier of the year

1. Crestline Investors
2. Macquarie Credit Markets
3. 17Capital

Crestline Investors’ Fund Liquidity Solutions team was an active leader in fund financing throughout 2020. It used a variety of structures to expand its portfolio of bridge loans which allow sponsors to refinance portfolio company debt, buy out minority shareholders in existing positions, fund critical growth initiatives and support new acquisitions.