This will be our last newsletter column of the year as we go on break next week. We’ll be back in early January with our insider view of the inner workings of firms and funds. We hope you enjoy the holiday season and actually get some sort of a break, before the January rush.
For today’s column, we took a look at the top stories of 2023 to get a sense of what you, Dear Reader, truly wanted to read about. I’m always open to your recommendations about important topics to cover, so feel free to hit me up at email@example.com with tips n’ gossip and feedback, stories ideas or just to chat!
Some of the top stories this year included:
Apollo sees its ‘time to shine’: our deep dive into Apollo Global Management’s strategy and approach to the changing markets. We interviewed the firm’s co-heads of private equity Matt Nord and Dave Sambur about how Apollo was approaching this year’s environment of higher rates, more expensive debt and slowing deal activity.
“The worse things are in the market, the more opportunities we see,” Nord said.
This owes to a strategy that is purpose-built for complexity and dislocation, especially at the large end of the deal spectrum. Refined over cycles stretching back before the financial crisis, it is now enabling Apollo’s “time to shine,” Sambur said. Read the deep dive here.
Josh Harris’s new shop, 26North, seeds venture firm launched by ex-BlackRock exec: One of the significant firm formation stories recently was the launch of 26North by Apollo co-founder Josh Harris. The firm started life in 2022 with $5 billion in assets under management and has grown quickly, raising a credit fund and now having launched its main flagship private equity pool.
In this story, published at the end of 2022, but gaining big reads through early 2023, we discuss one of Harris’s early investments, seeding the formation of a venture firm focused on early-stage investments launched by ex-BlackRock executive William Abecassis. Read more here.
LPs are saying ‘enough!’ and moving on: One of the perpetual challenges for large LP organizations is ‘brain drain’, or the loss of talented individuals who led the formation of the private equity portfolio, only to leave after several years for better paying jobs – many times with actual firms.
LP turnover ramped over the past several years amid a flood of funds hitting the market, and then this past year’s market challenges of rising rates and slowing distributions.
However, while the situation may seem dire, it’s not a new one, nor is it insurmountable (despite the unique challenges in today’s market). Young talent can get a foot in the door to the industry as an LP, a career that can lead to work at placement agencies, as investor relations professionals and even into regular deal analysis. So there is unlikely to be a lack of young professionals moving into LP roles, even at lower pay. Read more here.
Ten emerging managers to keep your eye on in 2023: Always one of our most popular types of coverage, we took a look at some of the most interesting new managers in the market. In this story, we featured firms like Bansk Group, Broad Sky Partners, Coalesce Capital, HarbourView Equity, Hunter Point Capital, Sandbrook Capital and Skky Partners.
Several of the firms we featured in the article, which ran in January, went on to hold final closes on their debut funds. Look for our next version of this report next year as we tap our sources to find out which new shops are garnering the most attention from LPs.
Alpine runs $2bn GP-led on Apex Service Partners: One of the largest single-asset secondary processes this year was run by Alpine Investors on its portfolio company Apex Service Partners. We broke the story that the deal was in the market earlier this year looking to raise at least $2 billion. The deal ended up closing in October after running a syndication process and raising $3.4 billion to move Apex out of the firm’s older Funds VII and VII-A and into a continuation vehicle.
GP-led processes like single asset funds, a popular way for GPs to deliver liquidity to LPs in older funds, slowed this year in favor of more traditional LP portfolio sales. Still, certain large GP-led deals like Alpine’s managed to work their way through the market and reach final close.
Signs are looking up for GP-leds into next year as the desire is there on the part of GPs, but the limitation in secondaries is the lack of capital to meet all the inventory. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity for those few firms that have fresh capital to deploy, which can continue to be selective in what they pursue. Read more here.
Carl Thoma: ‘People are still in denial’: It’s always interesting to chat with folks who have been doing the job for a long time, to get perspective on how things have changed. We chatted with Carl Thoma, one of the co-founders of Thoma Bravo who has been around the industry since its inception in the 1970s.
Talking about the tough markets earlier this year, Thoma said: “It’s going to have to get worse before we see any real bargains. Or time is going to have to run to when somebody finally says the incremental return we get for holding this asset has dropped down to the point that maybe we should just take a lower price and recycle the money. But we’re not there yet. I don’t know whether that’s six months from now or a year.
“I think we’re going to muddle through this. We may be going into a slower-paced stock market, which is not the end of the world. It just puts a bigger premium on don’t overpay too much and make sure your companies are best-in-class.” Read the interview here.