The 30 most influential LPs in Europe

At this point in the cycle, the ambitions and anxieties of investors have a strong bearing on the mood in the asset class. So which buyside representatives are setting the tone on fundraising, terms and conditions and alignment of interest with general partners? Private Equity International selects the limited partners that matter in Europe.

In June 2002, based on the view that for all its growing up, private equity fundamentally remains an industry where engaged individuals can make more of a difference than institutional might, Private Equity International published a list of who we thought were the 50 most influential practitioners in Europe. Drawing on dozens of views of professionals across the industry's core constituencies, the list was a subjective A-Z of the people who we concluded were having the greatest impact on the European private equity market.

A year on, following the same motivation and methodology, we focus on just one of the groups of professionals: the investors. The questions we asked the market were: who are the investors, indigenous or from overseas, that really stand out in Europe? Which limited partners are most active as providers of capital to European private equity firms, and who has the most insight into the mechanics of the asset class? Who, in other words, ranks among the most influential LPs in Europe?

For an LP to be influential can mean many things. Of course money matters, and there are people on the buyside who by investing large amounts of capital have helped establish private equity as a potent source of funding to private companies in Europe. But investors don't have to have a fat chequebook in order to have ?influence?. It's also how you use it. Which LPs do general partners most want to see commit to their funds early on, knowing that their presence will attract others? Who is rated for superior understanding of private equity investing and best-inclass due diligence? And who have been the most vocal advocates for changing the ways in which GPs and LPs interact?

These questions are particularly relevant at a time when the industry is still getting to grips with the fallout from the public markets. Less experienced investors are turning to more seasoned colleagues to see how they are dealing with problems in their portfolios and general partners will also consult with the investors they rate.

It's obviously not just the investors who play a crucial part in this process. One such group of practitioners who we do not consider here because they don't fall into the LP category but whose influence is probably at a peak right now are the gatekeepers that do not handle discretionary capital: US-based Cambridge Associates and Pacific Corporate Group for instance, and pension consultants Watson Wyatt and Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow. Also missing from our list are the structured finance specialists such Capital Dynamics, which recently helped US insurer AIG to complete an innovative $1bn securitisation of private equity fund investments, who do much to mould the asset class by opening up new routes to liquidity for investors. And then there are the placement agents: their insight into what will and won't sell on today's fundraising trail is invaluable to GPs and LPs alike.

Despite the proximity to the buyside that these groups enjoy, we concentrated strictly on professionals who make a living out of putting capital into private equity funds. With one notable exception, the people on this list are all active limited partners operating in Europe – managers of funds of funds and public sector money, of insurance, bank and pension assets, of family offices and endowments.

Appearing in alphabetical order, all the investors mentioned here, through their monetary and intellectual contributions, are aiding the evolution of the European private equity market. Crucially, the list is not a ranking, and it doesn't purport to be comprehensive. But if you are active in the industry, you will recognise most of the people in these pages.

Wanching Ang, Allianz PEP
German corporate behemoth Allianz is the country's leading private equity investor and one of Europe's most active insurers participating in the asset class. Munich-based Wanching Ang is in charge of Allianz Private Equity Partners, the group's fund of funds investment operation. The team comprises several highly respected investment professionals including James Kester (brother of Kevin, the well-known investor who leads private equity investment at US pension Colorado PERA), Elliot Royce and Marc Thiery, but one insider describes Ang, who joined in 1999, as ?the mother of the group?. General partners who have tried to persuade APEP of the merits of their investment propositions say they are tough customers. In a difficult market, Ang's group had a tough time finding sufficient quality product to invest last year's of €1bn target allocation for Europe. This year's target is thought to be lower, but Allianz can do a great deal to put a fund on the map by making a sizeable commitment.

George Anson, HarbourVest Partners
With over $15bn in assets, Boston-headquartered HarbourVest Partners is one of the giants amongst the funds of funds community. In September last year it held a final close on its hybrid direct investment/ fund of funds vehicle, HarbourVest International Private Equity Partners IV, on $2.8bn, which the investment team is currently busy deploying across a range of fund types and geographies. A key member of this group is London-based managing director George Anson who joined the firm in 1990, after spending seven years at rival Pantheon Ventures.

HarbourVest have developed a strong reputation for classleading due diligence, so much so that many regard their arrival in a fund's LP group a noteworthy seal of approval. And as a leading private equity advisor says: ?George has lots of money dedicated to Europe. He's been around a long time, but couple that with the fact that they have a lot of capital to put to work, and that makes him pretty influential.?

Robert Baird, PEIA
The Private Equity Investors Association, the European equivalent of the US-based Institutional Limited Partners Association, is run by Robert Baird, a former investment manager for that longstanding, and highly regarded private equity investor, the Wellcome Trust. Refreshingly practical and down-to-earth, Baird has helped move the Association from a loose gathering of private equity LPs to a more formal entity designed to give European LPs a forum to both share and advance knowledge about private equity investing. Headline writers are itching to cast PEIA (just as with ILPA) as a grouping of aggrieved LPs itching to gang up on fat GPs: Baird is careful to counter such assumptions. He was recently quoted as saying that the PEIA was not setting out to be destructive in any way and that its members recognised that private equity investing is all about having a constructive relationship with GPs. But do expect to hear more European buyside perspective appear via this Association.

Jens Bisgaard-Frantzen, ATP PEP
Many see Jens Bisgaard-Frantzen as one of Europe's rising stars. A little over a year ago, general partners in Europe and North America sat up straight when Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP), the €37bn Danish Labour Market Supplementary Pension Scheme, announced plans to dramatically step up its private equity investment effort and build a €4.5bn diversified international fund investment programme over the coming years. Since then the private equity group, led by Bisgaard-Frantzen, has been quietly going about sifting the market for suitable investment opportunities. Observers say their approach has been measured and well paced. As one LP puts it: ?Jens is making a name for himself, and GPs are very keen to get close. He's already learned a great deal about the market, and they have been picky, turning a lot of people down.? In Europe, ATP has so far invested with Graphite Capital, Nordic Capital and Cinven, which it has also teamed up with for its debut co-investment, in UK bingo chain Gala.

Wim Borgdorff, NIB Capital
Although others on this list may cause readers to pause briefly, few will be surprised to see NIB Capital and managing partner Wim Borgdorff here. One reason is simply the size of its funds under management allocated to private equity: €14bn attracts attention. The group has two key clients for whom it invests: Dutch pensions giants ABP and PGGM. It has invested significantly in infrastructure and now has around 50 investment professionals and offices in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Frankfurt, London and New York. Borgdorff himself sees plenty of work still to do. He wants to make NIB one of the pre-eminent global private equity investors. Certainly the group is prepared to make bold moves: they are known to make sizeable commitments (€100m upwards) to funds they like. In February NIB led the investor syndicate that backed the €1.5bn buyout of DB Capital's direct investments to form MidOcean Partners, committing €312m to this deal.

Louis Brenninkmeijer, Bregal
Committing €495m to a first time private equity fund is a bold move ? particularly if it comes from a first time investor. No wonder the market took notice in January when Englefield Capital, the newly established London-based private equity firm led by Dominic Shorthouse, announced that Bregal Investments had sent in a cheque over just that amount. The Swiss-based subsidiary of Cofra Holdings, which manages the wealth of the Brenninkmeijer family, owners of European retailer C&A, almost single-handedly made Englefield's debut fundraising campaign a success (Englefield has since closed the fund at €700m). The market hadn't fully absorbed the news when Bregal turned up in yet another high profile deal, this time as a member of the blue-chip consortium that funded the spin-off of MidOcean from Deutsche Bank. Bregal is run by cochairs Louis Brenninkmeijer and Yves de Balmann, a former senior investment banker at Deutsche in New York. It's early days for Bregal in the asset class, but it has certainly fired the market's imagination about what family investors with this kind of commitment can do in private equity. More of the same would not surprise.

Les Brun, Hamilton Lane
There are probably few private equity practitioners who have not at some time or other sat in the audience of a conference and listened to Les Brun talk about the challenges and opportunities that lie within private equity. He is a compelling and coherent proponent of the asset class and he has made Hamilton Lane one of the industry's best-known investment advisers, as well as fund of funds managers. Since its inception in 1991, the Philadelpia-headquartered firm has helped $23bn of investment capital be deployed in private equity. Brun continues to be an enthusiast for European private equity, seeing its ongoing evolution as an ideal time to apply Stateside experience to a less mature version of the asset class. Says one GP: ?Hamilton Lane is building traction in Europe: we'll all be seeing and hearing more from them.? Brun's colleague Wayne Harber is clocking up airmiles as he traverses the region.

Jeremy Coller, Coller Capital
When Coller Capital closed its latest secondary fund at $2.5bn last year, few private equity practitioners failed to notice. In part this was because here was emphatic evidence that the provision of greater liquidity in private equity via secondary sales was essential. It was also noticeable because of founder Jeremy Coller, a voluble, opinionated and sometimes polarising private equity buyer. Coller and his firm have real impact, something that is set to grow further as more personnel are added and offices opened (most recently in New York). An unsurprising sceptic when it comes to alternative liquidity options (such as securitisation), Coller wants to see more secondary sales take place across the industry and he is not backwards in coming forwards in order to make that happen. In February this year, Coller was amongst the roster of key investors who helped spin out MidOcean Partners from Deutsche Bank as the bank sought to shrink its exposure to the asset class.

Peter Dolan, Harvard Management
Peter Dolan has been described as the ?gold standard? of endowment investors partly because of the prestige his institution can bring to a fund, and partly because of how other investors rate his assessment of a private equity partnerhip after he has kicked its tires. Dolan himself has been known to turn a dark crimson as he vociferously airs his opinions on the private equity market. He has been an outspoken critic of GP avarice, particularly where oversized funds and excessive management fees are involved. Dolan's easygoing personality bears no resemblance to his exacting due diligence regimen. A placement agent calls him ?very smart and very thorough? when evaluating an investment. Dolan zeros in on the integrity of the GP in executing what was promised in the PPM; any differential between promise and delivery will be questioned. Fund managers, increasingly European fund managers, can't get enough of the Dolan regimen. ?He sees everything,? says an industry consultant. Funds that want access to the $17bn endowment's 13 per cent target allocation to private equity are eager to have Dolan take a look.

Chuck Flynn, Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank has a real asset in Chuck Flynn. In an industry where investors often mince words and qualify assertions – and suffer because of it – Flynn has a reputation for calling a spade a spade. Flynn's flexibility in language mirrors his abilities to find solutions to complex portfolio problems. He recently worked with his bank to sell $1.6bn worth of inventoried private equity partnerships to MidOcean Partners in a landmark secondary transaction. In addition to building an expertise in structured private equity, Flynn oversees Deutsche Bank's influential fund of funds program. Before joining Deutsche Bank, he helped established the global third-party fund of funds business for AXA Investment Managers, alongside Sasha van de Water. Now his aim is to provide the clients of Deutsche Asset Management with ?a complete suite? of private equity opportunities. Given his creativity in packaging private equity, a commitment from Flynn's team is likely to be anything other than ?plain-vanilla? capital.

Rick Hayes, CalPERS
European GPs have more incentive to travel to California than simply the sunshine – no fund of any size can afford to skip a trip to Sacramento to pitch one of the biggest private equity participant of them all – CalPERS. Hayes oversees a $20bn alternative investment program on behalf of the public employees of the Golden State, and his team's due diligence process is so thorough that many other institutional investors will wait to see how CalPERS responds to a fund before committing. The list of CalPERS' involvement in Europe includes commitments to Polish Enterprise Fund, Permira, KKR European, Doughty Hanson, CVC, Coller Capital, Carlyle Europe and Candover. Hayes is the head of the Institutional Limited Partners Association, and as such is influential among LPs both by dint of money and thought leadership. He has led the charge on standards and transparency, but has done so with a disarming affability, rather than, as he once put it, ?hammering on fees.?

Björn König, Inter Ikea Treasury
Inter Ikea is the family office of the Kamprad family, which founded Sweden's Ikea furniture empire. Its alternative investment effort is led by Björn König, a former managing director at Tallard Venture Group, whom practitioners describe as very active. A deeply private organisation, Inter Ikea does not disclose details of its alternative investment programme, although it controls Catella, a private equity investor based in Stockholm. König sits on the board of Danske Private Equity, the Danish €1.2bn private equity manager, and he helped Triton Group, the Jersey-based private equity house that invests in Northern Europe, spin out of Doughty Hanson and raise a €600m debut fund in 2000. According to one investment professional, while many LPs still take too much of a backseat when interacting with private equity fund managers, ?Björn has strong opinions and I think he's very knowledgeable about private equity. He asks all the difficult questions at investor meetings.? Another practitioner commended König for being a vocal defender of limited partner interests.

Jim Leech, Ontario Teachers'
Teachers' Merchant Bank, the private equity division of the US$45bn Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund, likes to do its own investing, thank you. The programme overseen by Jim Leech acts as an in-house direct investment arm for the teachers of Ontario. But Leech is quick to point out that where there are investment opportunities to realise outside of his team's area of expertise – Europe, for example – he is willing to pay a GP group to do the investing for him, provided Teachers' Merchant Bank be given co-investment opportunities. Leech's group has substantially backed BC Partners, a major European private equity firm, since 1992. The firm has co-invested with NIB Capital in Europe and alongside KKR in the US. Leech, himself the former head of publicly traded Canadian buyout firm Unicorp Canada, knows a thing or two about the LBO business, and European GPs who don't demonstrate a similar skill set can expect a chilly reception from this Canadian investor.

Stefan Marelid, SEB Asset Management
Marelid is in charge of private equity investment at Copenhagen-based SEB Asset Management, a heavyweight Scandinavian investment group that is active across a host of asset classes (and hence wrestling at present with marked declines in its public equity investments). Marelid was a participant in a recent LP Roundtable PEI hosted and impressed with his measured, pragmatic approach to investing in what to some may seem a disturbingly unruly asset class. Marelid's expectations for private equity are at once tinged with the disciplines found in other investment arenas (one comment we had was that ?when he speaks about private equity he can seem more anti than pro?) and with a realism that comes from his recognising that private equity is a unique animal. With around €1.5bn allocated to the asset class SEB is a significant LP already. Marelid looks set to ratchet up the group's activities further as the right funds appear at what he regards as a good time to be committing capital.

Jonny Maxwell, Standard Life
If this was a ranking based on the number of nominations received, Jonny Maxwell would be near the top: practically everybody we spoke to put him on this list. Running Standard Life's private equity business, Maxwell is recognised for his investment skills, his activist stance on terms and conditions as well as the team that he and his right hand David Currie have assembled up in Edinburgh. ?It's not just him?, says an admirer. ?The team is deep, and they have the ability to make direct investments anywhere in Europe based on their own due diligence. They have the battle scars, and they know where to look in the documentation for any problems.? Maxwell himself has great passion for the asset class and is one of the most outspoken proponents of the view that general partners will have to adapt some of their ways of doing business in order to accommodate their clients' needs. His message to fellow investors: do speak up.

Ray Maxwell, Invesco Private Capital
Maxwell is one of the elder statesmen of European private equity and, like his Scottish namesake, a holder of strong views on what works and what doesn't in the industry today. Maxwell has nearly 30 years of investment management experience, much of it spent investing in unquoted assets. Prior to taking over Invesco Private Capital's private equity fund investment business in 1997, he practiced direct and indirect investing for Greenoak and Hermes Investment Management. ?He has seen various cycles and does not get swayed by temporary developments?, was one observation. Invesco may not rank among the funds of funds with the deepest pockets in the business (the group has discretion over $2bn in commitments and also operates an advisory franchise), but Maxwell enjoys a high profile and much respect among his peers as a tireless advocate of greater alignment of interest between general partners and their investors. He is an eloquent speaker and engaging columnist, fond of quoting the likes of Blake and Shakespeare in investor presentations and conference speeches.

David Pinkerton, AIG Global Investment
Pinkerton has led his posse in hot pursuit of innovative private equity transactions since 1988, but his most recent coup was the recent securitisation of $1bn worth of AIG's private equity partnerships and the placement of roughly $250m in triple-A rated bonds backed by the funds. This deal marked the first time a portfolio of private equity funds has ever received a triple-A rating. Pinkerton himself receives similarly high ratings from GPs who have received commitments from AIG ? of whom there are many: last year the group's fund of funds capital stood at $12bn – as well as from other investors who benefit from his group's pioneering work on the frontiers of liquidity. The securitisation initiative was born of necessity. Like many institutions, Pinkerton's private equity arm is seeking to prune and reorganise its allocation to the asset class while at the same time grow its third-party fund of funds business and have cash for fresh investments. Pinkerton deserves credit for making what other LPs dream of a reality for AIG. Watch out for more of the same.

Bruno Raschle, Adveq Management
Bruno Raschle is one of the three managing directors of Swiss private equity funds of funds manager Adveq Management that has over €1bn under management. A seasoned investor in the venture space, having started 18 years ago, Raschle also brings real-life operational experience to bear on his investment activities. He is widely respected for his dedication particularly to venture that ensures a degree of commitment to GPs that other investors lack. ?He doesn't blindly follow a fund but he does have an empathy with GPs that not only adds value for investors in Adveq funds but also encourages a long term relationship with key venture firms,? comments a source. Few need reminding that venture is a difficult place to be at present. Adveq's latest fund of funds, a US-oriented IT vehicle, closed below original target last June, but it was testimony to the esteem Adveq is held in that it nonetheless raised $300m in the current environment.

Sandra Robertson, Wellcome Trust
London-based Wellcome Trust, with assets of about US$18bn, is the second largest trust in the world, and the world's largest medical research charity. It is also a long-standing investor in private equity and Sandra Robertson heads its alternative assets investment team who look after some $2.7bn, or 15 per cent of total assets. Wellcome has a welldefined strategy towards private equity, understanding its long-term nature and the need to have a rigorous investment regime. It also takes full advantage of its access to leading edge life-science know-how when investing in VC funds active in that sector. Straight talking and clearly comfortable with both the soft and hard characteristics of the asset class, Robertson wins respect from both her fellow investors and from GPs. Says a fellow LP: ?Sandra is never shy of putting forward her opinion. In a marketing meeting, if she doesn't like something, she has no hesitation in letting anyone know.? Recently Robertson has been keen to debate what she regards as the inequitable division of pain between LPs and GPs as funds make massive write-downs.

Nick Shaw, Shell UK Pension Fund
Starting out in the early 1990s, Shaw has constructed a private equity investment portfolio that currently stands at £500m of invested capital, just over 7 per cent of his pension fund's total assets. Shaw, who has kept a low profile even by private equity standards, concentrated on European buyout funds throughout the decade in order to gain access to corporate restructuring opportunities in the UK and mainland Europe. People who know the portfolio say that Shaw executed the strategy well, picking a cast of top performing managers. In recent years, Shell has been reaping the rewards: in 2002 alone for example, according to one source, 23 per cent of the portfolio returned cash. A London-based senior placement agent says he has long been a fan: ?Nick gets it, he's very smart. Whenever I hear that he's interested in a fund, I start paying attention.? And Shaw isn't even a private equity full-timer as it were: as the group's co-CIO, he has responsibility for its entire investment portfolio in Europe. His private equity peers will do well to keep track of where he's headed next.

John Shearburn, Goldman Sachs
?This is smart money, and a lot of it,? comments one UK-based GP about the private equity group of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and their push into Europe. The group can cast a long shadow: $11bn of assets, the vast majority of it from third parties, is being managed through a number of different funds of funds, including dedicated venture, distressed and secondaries vehicles. John Shearburn leads the London-based part of this team, reporting into the rumbustious global head Phil Cooper. Self-effacing but with that steely resolve that is a hallmark of many GS personnel, Shearburn spends a lot of time on the road garnering further commitments. Meanwhile colleagues led by Marc Boheim in London will stress test candidate funds. The group's due diligence is often singled out as exemplary. ?You and several hundred other funds are all put through their machine each year,? says a GP, ?it's scary.?

Hanneke Smits, Adam Street Partners
Having cut her teeth at Pantheon Ventures, where she spent five years, Hanneke Smits arrived at Chicago-based fund of funds giant Adams Street in 1997. Adams Street, which manages $7bn in discretionary and non-discretionary capital, has long been a leading light. In the US, it pioneered the fund of funds approach to private equity investment in the late 1970s. As head of the firm's European and Asian investments, Smits has since led the group's slow but sure expansion outside its home market. GPs like her measured and decisive approach: ?You know where you are with Hanneke,? says one, ?you get asked straight questions but also are given straight answers.? At a time when closing commitments to a fund is especially protracted this approach is valued highly. And LPs in Adams Street funds are also appreciative of this no-nonsense style that ensures that they get given an unvarnished picture of a fund's typically diverse portfolio of fund investments.

Helen Steers, Frank Russell
Helen Steers is managing director, private equity Europe, for global investment services firm Frank Russell Company. This multi-faceted company, now owned by NorthWestern Mutual, manages $70bn in assets and has a large alternative investments group providing what it describes as ?closely researched? opportunities in private equity and venture capital. The company also jointly produces the influential annual Institutional Alternative Investing Survey with Goldman Sachs that polls major investors on their allocations to, and attitudes towards, alternative asset classes. Russell has built a sizeable funds of funds operation and Paris-based Steers leads the team that examines the European private equity landscape for opportunities. Several GP contacts cited both Steers' diligence and market awareness as particular attributes. More broadly, Russell's tradition of in-depth research and analysis provides an interesting reference point for the ongoing evolution of investors' appraisal of private equity funds. Expect Steers and her team to be an integral part of this process.

Georges Sudarskis, ADIA
The involvement of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) in European private equity goes back many years. Unusually for an internationally investing organisation, ADIA first started backing European general partner groups before moving into the US market. The semi government organisation, established in 1976 and managing a foreign asset portfolio estimated to be worth several hundred billion dollars on behalf of the United Arabic Emirates, keeps a tight lid on its investment activities. The private equity programme, run by Georges Sudarskis, has been one of the most potent providers of capital to the industry. Market insiders note that recently ADIA has been less active in terms of making new commitments, but their sustained influence is unquestioned. Says a US-based placement agent source: ?This is shrewd money. In the Middle East there are opinion setters.? Sudarskis, senior investment controller, runs a team that also includes Abu Baker Al Khouri and Ahmed Ghubash, who is based in the group's London office.

David Swensen, Yale
Swensen, Yale's chief investment officer, wrote the book on endowment investing – literally. His 2000 book, Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment, is already regarded by many as a classic study on how and how not to invest institutional capital. Swensen oversees more than $10bn for the endowment. Despite his high recognition rate in the industry, Swensen refuses to publicly discuss how he has invested Yale's money. But during his appearances at industry events, Swensen does not hold back in his assessment of the private equity market – funds are too big, exit opportunities are few, and returns will likely come down. Accordingly, Yale has reduced its allocation to the private equity asset class by $800m, according to insiders. Swensen was last year's keynote speaker at the EVCA conference in Geneva. European GPs hoping for support from a thought leader can do no better than David Swensen.

Rhoddy Swire, Pantheon Ventures
London-based Pantheon, which also has offices in Brussels, San Francisco and Hong Kong, is one of Europe's finest fund of funds operations with close to €6bn under management. Earlier this year, the firm closed its third European fund of funds on €470m, which now invests as part of its €2bn European fund programme. In 2002, Pantheon lost former chief executive Richard Bowley after 16 years of service, but the group's core team retains considerable heft: Carol Kennedy, Dave Braman and Colin Wimsett in the UK are all well-regarded in the market. On top of the tree sits charismatic chairman Rhoddy Swire, who first joined the business in 1981 and led its buyout from GT Management in 1988. ?Swire is very opinionated and has been influential over the years?, says an observer. One of his noteworthy achievements was the establishment of the first ever private equity fund of funds vehicle to list on the London Stock Exchange, as early as 1987.

Ivan Vercoutère, LGT Capital Partners
Vercoutère heads up the private equity group at LGT Capital Partners, a €3bn alternative asset manager based in Pföffikon, Switzerland, which started out as the Princely family of Liechtenstein's family office in 1993. Vercoutère first learned the tricks of the trade at US gatekeeper Pacific Corporate Group before returning to Europe to build a business in the then fledgling European fund of funds environment. Says a former PCG colleague: ?Ivan is known for thoughtful and detailed due diligence, and his team are well-connected across Europe.? With two of LGT's investment vehicles, Castle Private Equity and Castle Alternative Invest, listed on stock exchanges in Switzerland and Luxembourg, Vercoutère ranks among Europe's pioneers of structured private equity products. He has also built a reputation as a sensible backer of newly emerging private equity managers, committing early to a number of European first-time funds. LGT, which also participates in secondaries, has invested in over 180 private equity partnerships.

Mark Weisdorf, Canada Pension Plan
It's hard to say ?no? to Mark Weisdorf. As the head of private investments for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the largest pensions in the world, Weisdorf is in a position to write very large cheques for private equity funds. And he has – for Bridgestone, Candover, MidOcean and Terra Firma, among others. Weisdorf's group plans to commit roughly $3bn per year to the asset class, but firms that want his pension's capital must demonstrate a long-term commitment and a substantive track record – not a past performance that Weisdorf refers to as being the result of ?bubble-mania.? Weisdorf's heft has allowed him to push causes that he feels are important to the LP community. He is a prominent member of the Institutional Limited Partners Association and sponsored an ILPA gathering in Toronto last year. If Weisdorf's contagious enthusiasm, fortified with billions of dollars in dry powder, can't effect change in the private equity industry, nothing can.

Urs Wietlisbach, Partners Group
As a sizeable private equity fund of funds manager, Partners needs to be tracking the funds within its portfolio closely. The Zug, Switzerland-based group has made an art of the science of such tracking, having built a unique quantitative analytical team who are tasked with providing hard data to direct the Group's investment strategy. The result? Partners is increasingly confident that it can see early on when good funds are set to turn bad, let alone the good get even better. Partners is also an innovator of securitised private equity. Nominating any one individual from within the core team of Partners is hard, but Wietlisbach – a cofounder ? should take credit for helping develop both the theory and practice of private equity securitisation. Others reference partner Sandra Pajarola, co-head of the buyout and special situations group at the firm, who attracts plaudits for her rigorous and informed approach to fund selection.

Eugene Wong, GIC
Since its inception in 1981 GIC, the manager of Singapore's foreign reserves, has accumulated over $100bn, which it invests across assets classes on a global scale. Get their private equity team into your fund early, and you'll have the attention of others on the buyside. Known for a low-key, unassuming approach to interacting with general partners ? ?they don't feel the need to prove they're smart? was one observation ? GIC have invested very large sums of money in European private equity over the years. Following Lim Hock Tay's recent transfer to New York, Eugene Wong now heads up the London presence. Practitioners are impressed with the quality of the group's investment process. Here's one placement agent's verdict: ?They're absolutely meticulous. They will grind you down on every aspect of your fund, and there will be no surprises whatsoever by the time you've gone through their process. The reward can be a $100m ticket.? Underlying such a chunky allocation is often a keen interest to build a long-term relationship and become a co-investor.