Fund Manager of the Year
1 Blackstone Credit
2 Ares Management
With its global direct lending assets under management having reached nearly $50 billion by the end of Q3 2021, Blackstone saw record deployment of $11.2 billion in the third quarter, driven by $8.6 billion from US direct lending.
During the second and third quarters, credit became the fastest-growing segment of the firm. Speaking on the firm’s Q3 2021 earnings call, president and chief operating officer Jon Gray said: “In credit we saw $65 billion of inflows in the last 12 months, with continued robust demand for direct lending and floating rate liquid strategies.”
Newcomer of the Year
1 HSBC Asset Management
2 Epsilon Direct Lending
3 Slate Asset Management
The firm launched its direct lending strategy in December 2020 with the first close of its Senior UK Direct Lending Fund. Second and third closes for the fund, plus a segregated mandate with a large international insurer, were signed in 2021. Since its first investment in January, HSBC AM has made a further 19 investments and grown the investment team to eight people. By November, the team had taken its headcount to nine investment professionals, from five at the beginning of 2021.
Deal of the Year
1 Straive (Huatai International)
2 Bain Capital/Pantheon joint venture
3 Stamps.com (Blackstone Credit)
The firm was lead investor of the $500 million unitranche acquisition financing for Baring Private Equity Asia’s acquisition of the edtech research, content and data solutions provider. The deal was the first such financing for an Asian company, with leveraged buyouts traditionally the domain of the banks. The deal was also notable for its proprietary sourcing, speed of execution and inclusion of various positive ESG impacts. The target was sold to BPEA in 2021 after four years of ownership by Partners Group.
CLO Manager of the Year
1 Blackstone Credit
2 CVC Credit
3 Golub Capital
The largest CLO manager in the US and Europe as at 30 September 2021, according to Creditflux, the firm issued 14 new CLOs during 2021 and claimed to be the most active North American and European CLO manager. The firm’s liquid credit strategies had $7.8 billion of inflows in the second quarter. In the third quarter, the firm closed three new CLOs – one US and two European – for $1.6 billion and five CLO refinancings and resets – three US and two European – for $2.3 billion.
Distressed Debt and Special Situations Investor of the Year
1 Oaktree Capital Management
2 Apollo Global Management
The firm recently wrapped up the largest private debt fund on record, closing its 11th Opportunities Fund on $15.9 billion. Oaktree has been a stalwart of opportunistic investing for around 25 years and can call upon 200 or so investment, sourcing and trading professionals. By the end of September 2021, the firm had reached $36 billion in assets under management for a strategy that combines distressed bank debt, defaulted securities and bankruptcy situations with the firm’s renowned expertise in valuing companies and assets.
Fundraising of the Year
1 Ares Management
2 Oaktree Capital Management
3 The Carlyle Group
The firm raised $23.5 billion in new equity and debt commitments across its US direct lending vehicles in the 12 months to 30 September 2021, including $5.1 billion raised for its flagship Ares Private Credit Solutions II junior direct lending strategy versus a $4 billion target.
This fund was 50 percent larger than the APCS I fund, its 2017-vintage predecessor which raised $3.4 billion. The firm also raised €11 billion for its ACE V fund in Europe and completed multiple pioneering deals.
Responsible Investor of the Year
1 Blackstone Credit
2 Tikehau Capital
3 CIFC Asset Management
The firm has grown its team of ESG-related professionals fivefold since 2019, with 14 added in 2021, including Rita Mangalick as head of ESG. Blackstone has committed over $8 billion to renewables and climate change solutions, more than $7 billion of it in the last 24 months. The firm also partnered with a third-party consultant to implement a proprietary ESG due diligence tool for the investment team to help identify material ESG risks based on sector exposure. The tool is based on the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board framework.