We want you to tell us what sort of year you’ve had

It’s been a highly active period for many in the private debt market. As we kickstart our awards process, we look forward to receiving your highlights.

Hard to believe it may be, but it’s once again that time of year. Yes, it’s the first stage of our annual awards process where we ask all of you fund managers, investors, advisers and the like to come forward and remind us what you’ve been up to during 2021. You will find the relevant form here.

We think you’ll have plenty to tell us about. At the dawn of this year, there was great uncertainty following the outbreak and immediate aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Would it be a year of recovery or one in which it transpired that covid-related problems had not been averted, merely delayed?

One thing we can say for sure is that the market has remained extraordinarily busy: more so than anyone could reasonably have predicted. In large part this has been due to the continuing boom in private equity, meaning that sponsored dealflow has soared to record levels. With some $535 billion raised by private equity up to the end of Q3 this year – the biggest nine-month total since the global financial crisis – there is no likelihood of this trend ending any time soon.

There was no distressed wave as such, but those operating in the special situations market said they had plenty to keep them occupied. The default rate, which peaked at over 8 percent in the early months of 2020, has been falling steadily ever since and is now at or below the historic average. However, there are plenty of companies which came through the crisis by taking advantage of emergency government loans that may require refinancing – and plenty of lenders waiting to offer their services.

On the fundraising front, 2020 was a tough and strange year. For the first time, investors were forced to evaluate managers from a distance rather than face-to-face and this unsurprisingly resulted in a flight to the tried and trusted, and fewer cheques being written overall. But investors never lost faith in private debt and the fundraising recovery became more and more evident as 2021 progressed.

Above all, this has been a year in which environmental, social and governance issues have come to prominence – and is the reason why our 2021 awards feature four new categories devoted to ESG. As we’ve not had these categories before, we particularly look forward to hearing about the advances your firm has made and the innovations introduced with the UN Climate Change Conference having focused all of our thoughts on the creation of a more sustainable future.

For all those who enter our awards – and remember the deadline for submissions is 19 November – we wish you the very best of luck.

Write to the author at andy.t@peimedia.com