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AVCJ Awards: Bain Capital, ChrysCapital, Altos Ventures claim firm of the year prizes

Bain Capital, ChrysCapital Partners, and Altos Ventures claimed the firm of the year prizes at the 2023 AVCJ Private Equity & Venture Capital Awards. Bain and ChrysCapital were two of three firms – alongside Advantage Partners – that won two awards.

A total of 17 prizes were presented for fundraising, investments, exits, responsible investment, and value creation. Monolith Venture Management, Primavera Capital Group, Anchorage Capital Partners, DCP Capital, The Longreach Group, BPEA EQT, EmergeVest, and Allegro Funds were among the other winners. Anil Thadani, one of the pioneers of private equity in Asia, won the AVCJ Special Achievement Award.

The region’s PE and VC community has a 50% say in the result by way of a public vote with a panel of industry judges accounting for the other 50%. The Operational Value Add Award and the Responsible Investment Award were presented based on recommendations from separate expert judging panels, while the AVCJ Special Achievement Award was presented at the discretion of the AVCJ Editorial Board.

Jonathan Zhu, a partner and co-head of Asia at Bain, noted that the current period is the most difficult Bain has experienced in its 18 years in the region, but the firm is confident it can work through the challenges. “We believe in today’s environment we can find good deals, do good deals, achieve liquidity, and we believe together we can keep this a very vibrant industry,” Zhu said.

Bain’s large-cap firm prize came on the back of a 12 months in which it put USD 5.7bn of equity to work in Asia. The firm led two of the three largest buyouts to close in Asia during this period: Proterial and Evident Corporation. Proterial, a USD 7.5bn carve-out of Hitachi Metals completed in conjunction with Japan Industrial Partners and Japan Industrial Solutions, received the Deal of the Year – Large Cap award.

James Tam, a partner at Bain, noted the deal ran the course of the pandemic, from signing to closing, largely due to a protracted approvals process. “It reflects the complex deal environment we are in right now. In the last few years, not only COVID but also geopolitical situations have impacted deal flow. But this is an example of a large-scale transaction that we were still able to get done,” he said.

ChrysCapital claimed the Firm of the Year – Mid Cap prize as well as Exit of the Year – IPO for Mankind Pharma, an Indian drugmaker that listed domestically earlier this year. Gaurav Ahuja, a managing director at ChrysCapital, said he is equally excited about what the Indian opportunity presents now, highlighting increased buyout activity.

Altos Ventures and Advantage Partners also described the recognition as vindication for their markets. Altos, which was named venture capital firm of the year, has invested in a string of unicorns that have characterised the rise of consumer internet in Korea. The US-founded GP completed its first Korea deal as recently as 2006, and Moon-Suk Oh, a partner at Altos, believes the market remains underpenetrated.

“We think Korea presents an interesting opportunity in terms of the ecosystem tech founders have built, the maturity of talent, and the increasing amount of capital being committed to B2C,” Oh added.

Advantage was honoured in the mid-cap fundraising category, having closed its seventh Japan buyout fund on JPY 130bn (USD 857m) after seventh months in the market, and in the small-cap exit category for its 9x return on tutoring school operator Yaruki Switch Group.

“Japan is a hot thing right now, partly due to the geopolitical shifts that are happening,” said Richard Folsom, a representative partner at Advantage. “But Japan is also a market that, in recent years particularly, has delivered great results, including exits and liquidity to investors, which is attracting more capital to the market. We were fortunate to capture all those things and bring them into a fundraise.”

The Longreach Group and BPEA EQT won the mid-cap and large-cap exit awards, for Quasar Medical and Vistra, respectively. Vistra prevailed in a category where two of the five shortlisted candidates were cross-fund deals and another two featured re-investment by the seller in a minority capacity.

BPEA EQT generated an exit for its fifth and sixth pan-Asian funds when Vistra was merged with fellow corporate services provider Tricor Group, a Fund VIII portfolio company. “What we’ve seen in the past year is only very good companies transact,” said Kosmo Kalliarekos, a partner at BPEA EQT. “And when we have a great company in our portfolio, we want to continue to hold it because they are so rare.”

Anil Thadani also touched on the notion of extended or permanent ownership when accepting the AVCJ Special Achievement Award. One of his earliest investments in the 1980s was a boutique resort in Phuket, Thailand that couldn’t access bank financing; it went on to become Aman Resorts.

“It’s not a business I would ever have sold if it were not in a fund. The guy who owns it now raised USD 900m by selling 30% to [Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Cain International]. I sold the whole thing for USD 450m,” Thadani said. “That’s the problem with the fund business.”

Thadani was one of the pioneers of private equity in Asia – and one of the seed investors in AVCJ. He co-founded Arral & Partners, one of the first successful private equity firms in the region, and then launched Schroder Capital Partners. At the end of the 1990s, he went evergreen with the creation of Symphony, an investment vehicle that trades on the London Stock Exchange.

“My journey in private equity started in October 1981,” Thadani said. “There wasn’t private equity at the time. I was fed up with being a banker and wanted to do something else, so I got a few of my friends to put together a USD 12m fund. We got lucky with the first couple of investments, and it morphed into a private equity business.”

The winners in full:

  • Fundraising of the Year – Venture Capital: Monolith Venture Fund I (Monolith Management)
  • Fundraising of the Year – Mid Cap: Advantage Partners VII (Advantage Partners)
  • Fundraising of the Year – Large Cap: Primavera Capital Fund IV (Primavera Capital Group)
  • Deal of the Year – Small Cap: David Jones (Anchorage Capital Partners)
  • Deal of the Year – Mid Cap: SV Foods (DCP Capital)
  • Deal of the Year – Large Cap: Proterial (Bain Capital, Japan Industrial Partners, Japan Industrial Solutions)
  • Exit of the Year – IPO: Mankind Pharma (Capital International, ChrysCapital)
  • Exit of the Year – Small Cap: Yaruki Switch Group (Advantage Partners)
  • Exit of the Year – Mid Cap: Quasar Medical (The Longreach Group)
  • Exit of the Year – Large Cap: Vistra (BPEA EQT)
  • Responsible Investment: Elevarm (Insignia Ventures Partners) & EV Cargo (EmergeVest)
  • Operational Value-add: Pizza Hut Australia (Allegro Funds)
  • Firm of the Year – Venture Capital: Altos Ventures
  • Firm of the Year – Mid Cap: ChrysCapital Partners
  • Firm of the Year – Large Cap: Bain Capital
  • AVCJ Special Achievement Award: Anil Thadani

The judges…

Main categories: Adams Street Partners, AlpInvest Partners, Asia Alternatives, Axiom Asia, Azimuth Asset Consulting, Future Fund, Hamilton Lane, HarbourVest Partners, HQ Capital, LGT Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley Investment Management Private Equity Solutions, Pantheon, Portfolio Advisors

Responsible Investment Award: APAC Advisors, Asian Development Bank, BSR, ClimeCo, Control Risks, International Finance Corporation, LGT Capital Partners

Operational Value Add Award: AlixPartners, Alvarez & Marsal, Anchor Strategic Partners, Bain & Company, KPMG, PwC