European buyout duo rank among world’s most consistent

Altor, which is based in Sweden, and German firm Auctus Management came in the top band of firms when measured by what quartile their funds have finished in. Three US firms – Clearview Capital, Lone Star Investment Advisors and Odyssey Investment Partners – also made the top band, where every firm had three top-quartile funds.

The research looked at 204 firms that each had at least three buyout funds of at least three years of age.

Commenting on the rankings, Harald Mix, a partner at Altor, said: “Being successful in one or a few deals is not that hard. Achieving stable performance throughout the years, defeating financial crises and global recession is harder.”

He added his firm, which was founded in 2003 and closed its fourth fund at €2 billion in 2014, was allowed to own companies for up to 15 years – longer than many private equity firms – and was also allowed to invest in public minorities.

He said: “This gives us opportunities that other buyout funds do not have.”

Auctus, meanwhile, is a specialist that focuses on buying up Mittelstand companies in German-speaking regions that generate sales of €10 million to €150 million.

Other European firms that scored highly in the rankings included Netherlands-based Waterland Private Equity, and UK-based firms Inflexion Partners and Harwood Private Equity.

Every single top 30 firm in the rankings operates in the mid-market sector.

Andrew Brown, a senior investment consultant at Willis Towers Watson, said mid-market firms can be pickier than those in the large-cap space as they “have a bigger universe to play in”.

“There are fewer deals in the large-cap space and because competition is higher and there is more debt available, valuations tend to be higher and data suggests that returns will therefore be lower,” he added.

A report by the London Business School in association with Swiss fund-of-funds manager Adveq released in September found that when small and medium-sized private equity funds acquired companies, they tended to use less debt and grow the companies at a faster rate than those owned by large private equity firms.

Additional reporting by William Louch

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