Private equity firms raise capital from institutions and high-net-worth individuals and invest these funds to obtain equity in companies with potential.
What are the world’s biggest PE firms?
What are their investment products and work culture?
How many employees do they have?
We try to answer these questions in this article.
The top private equity funds in the world are as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Advent International
- Apollo Global Management
- CVC Capital Partners
- EnCap Investments
- KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts)
- Neuberger Berman
- TPG Capital
- Warburg Pincus
Top Private Equity (PE) firms in the world
First glance: Founded: 1984. HQ Boston. AUM: $31 billion. Employees: Over 390.
Products: International buyouts and growth and strategy restructuring in business and financial services, healthcare, industries, retail, consumer, leisure, technology, media, and telecom.
Work culture: Advent offers good salaries and opportunities to learn. But the management seems to have a hierarchical approach that affects career progress, according to reviews. The up-or-out style for lower levels has a negative impact on the work environment. Better work-life balance than in most other firms.
Tidbits: Advent has operations in North America, Western and Central Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The company has been investing in India since 2007, and opened an office in Mumbai in 2009.
Apollo Global Management
First glance: Founded: 1990. HQ: New York. AUM: $248.93 billion. Employees: 1,047.
Products: Private equity funds, real estate funds, credit funds, leveraged buyouts, growth capital, venture capital, alternative investments. Apollo specializes in leveraged buyouts, distressed buyouts, and debt investments. It runs its business along three lines: PE, credit, and real estate.
Work culture: Good compensation at some levels. Good product and industry exposure. Fast-paced work and long hours. Poor training for new employees.
Tidbits: Apollo has managed over $232 billion of investors’ funds in PE, credit and real asset funds, and other investments, making it the second largest alternative asset managers in the US. In 2016, FT reported that Apollo had agreed to a $52.7 million settlement following charges that it misled investors.
First glance: Founded: 1985. HQ: New York. AUM: $434 billion. Employees: 2,360.
Products: Private equity, credit and hedge fund, real estate, investment management, asset management, financial advisory services (M&A, corporate restructuring).
Work culture: Great for career progress, as work is usually related to the best bankers and the best deals. Good place to start a career. Work pressure occasionally demands late nights.
Tidbits: Blackstone is No. 1 on the 2017 PEI 300 list. In 2007, it completed the first major IPO ($4 billion) of a private equity firm. Its subsidiaries include Mphasis, Hilton Worldwide, and the Weather Channel. In 2013, Bloomberg reported that a Blackstone subsidiary, GSO, and another firm purchased a €100 million bank loan taken by Codere, a betting and gaming company, and reportedly convinced it to delay repayment of the loan, resulting in a questionable $18.7 million profit for GSO.
First glance: Founded 1987. HQ: Washington, DC. AUM: $195 billion. Employees: 1,600.
Products: Leveraged buyout, growth capital, real estate, energy, and structured credit. Business divisions include corporate private equity, real assets, global credit, and investment solutions.
Work culture: Although the compensation, benefits, and bonus are good for many employees, some do mention low pay. Work-life balance is “almost non-existent” for most of the year. Employees can learn from well-connected colleagues.
Tidbits: The 2015 PEI (Private Equity International) 300 index rated Carlyle as the largest PE firm in the world (third largest in 2017 PEI 300). In 2005, Carlyle led the $15 billion buyout of Hertz. Carlyle has been profiled negatively in two documentaries—Fahrenheit 9/11 and The World According to Bush.
CVC Capital Partners
First glance: Founded: 1981 (from Citicorp Venture Capital). HQ: Luxembourg. AUM: $52 billion. Employees: 400.
Products: Private equity, venture capital, credit asset management, private debt.
Work culture: Long hours and expectations of employee availability 24/7. However, the work environment is pleasant with friendly and approachable colleagues. The benefits package is excellent. There seems to be a lack of communication within the company offices.
Tidbits: In September 2016, CVC sold control of the Formula One Group to Liberty Media for $4.4 billion. In 2015, CVC and Bencis Capital Partners were fined by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets after it found that their portfolio company Meneba Beheer had entered into an agreement with its rivals to keep prices stable between 2001 and 2007. CVC has in place programs to help disadvantaged children and young people.
First glance: Founded: 1988. HQ: Houston, Texas. AUM: $18 billion. Employees: 50.
Products: Private equity and investments. EnCap specializes in the oil and gas industry, and has invested $22 billion in over 240 upstream and midstream oil and gas companies.
Work culture: Not enough independent data is available from online sources. However, the EnCap website reports that the company professionals have more than 500 years of experience in the energy finance and investment business. EnCap is led by its four founding partners and three additional managing partners.
Tidbits: EnCap has raised 21 institutional oil and gas investment funds worth a total of $37 billion, and now manages capital for more than 350 investors in the US and elsewhere.
First glance: Founded: 1976, formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. HQ: New York. AUM: $148.5 billion. Employees: 1,250.
Products: Management buyouts, leveraged finance, venture capital, growth capital. KKR manages investments in hedge funds, credit and capital markets, energy, infrastructure, and real estate.
Work culture: Reasonable work hours and great work environment and benefits are the top pluses for employees. The downside is the “bureaucratic” upper management and lack of formal training for staff.
Tidbits: KKR, No. 2 in the 2017 PEI 300 list, is credited with being among the pioneers in largescale leveraged buyouts. Among its top deals are the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco in 1989 and the buyout of TXU in 2007, the largest leveraged buyout on record. Many original partners of KKR, including the original co-founder Jerome Kohlberg, have left the company. Kohlberg left following differences with Kravis and Roberts and founded Kohlberg & Company.
First glance: Founded: 1939. HQ: New York. AUM: $271 billion. Employees: Over 1,900.
Products: Private equity, investment management, mutual funds, fixed income, hedge funds, alternative investments.
Work culture: Good health benefits and retirement savings contributions. But compensation is lower than at other similar companies. Limited career development. Good work environment with talented coworkers.
Tidbits: Neuberger Berman is a fully employee-owned investment management firm that has high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors as clients. Although it had been taken over Lehman Brothers, it remerged as an independent entity after that firm’s collapse. Its capabilities have drawn public institutional partners such as the National Social Security Fund of China. Neuberger Bergman’s philanthropic initiative, NB Impacts, focuses on needy children and education for young people.
First glance: Founded: 1992 (from Texas Pacific Group). HQ: Fort Worth, Texas, and San Francisco, California. Total assets under management (AUM): $70 billion.
Products: Leveraged buyouts, growth capital, venture capital, leveraged recapitalization investments, public equity, and debt equity. TPG offers portfolio management and advisory services to individuals, institutions, trusts, private funds, charitable organizations, and investment companies. TPG is active in the technology, health care, consumer/retail, media, telecommunications, and travel/leisure sectors.
Work culture: According to employee reviews from online websites, TPG has a positive workspace and good work environment. The salary, bonus, and benefits are all good. But the company is not a great place for work-life balance.
Tidbits: TPG’s involvement in a $7 billion capital infusion in Washington Mutual, months before the company was forced to sell itself for a throwaway price to JP Morgan, is described by analysts as “the worst deal in private equity history.” TPG’s current investments include Airbnb and China Renewable Energy.
First glance: Founded: 1966. HQ: New York. AUM: $40 billion. Employees: Over 1,000.
Products: PE funds and investments in retail, industrial manufacturing, technology, health care, real estate, and media. Warburg Pincus is a venture capital and growth capital investor.
Work culture: Great work environment, good benefits, and opportunities for personal growth. But the work load can be overwhelming and the schedule inflexible. Senior management could do with more women leadership.
Tidbits: Warburg Pincus, fifth in 2017 PEI 300, has completed more IPOs for its companies than any other global PE firm. It has invested in companies including Bharti Tele-Ventures (Airtel) and Payscale, part of its $3 billion investments in India. It has invested a similar sum in China and $5 billion in Europe. In June 2016, The Quint and The Daily Beast reported that Kenneth I Juster, who had been nominated (and later confirmed) as US Ambassador to India, was a former partner of Warburg Pincus and that he had admitted to his involvement in eight of the firm’s Indian portfolios.
Other big private equity companies
Among other PE firms rated among the top are as follows:
|Apax Partners||1969||London||PE funds, leveraged buyouts, growth capital||$51 billion||over 100|
|Ardian||1996||Paris||private debt and infrastructure, direct funds, real estate, funds of funds||$62 billion||410|
|Ares Management||1997||Los Angeles||PE, credit, real estate, growth capital||$106 billion||925|
|Bain Capital||1984||Boston||PE, venture capital, investment management, credit products||$75 billion as of 2014||over 900|
|Clayton, Dubilier & Rice||1978||New York||PE, buyouts||$17 billion as of 2006||90|
|Fortress Investment Group||1998||New York||Private equity, credit fund, investment management, hedge funds, traditional asset management||$43.6 billion||2,533 as of 2016|
|General Atlantic||1980||New York||Growth capital||$24 billion||250-500|
|Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area||1986||New York||leveraged buyout, growth capital||$39.9 billion||over 140|
|Hellman and Friedman||1984||San Francisco||leveraged buyout, growth capital||$35 billion||100|
|Oaktree Capital Management||1995||Los Angeles||Private equity, real estate, alternative investments; distressed debt, corporate debt||$101 billion as of 2016||900|
|Thoma Bravo||2008||Chicago and San Francisco||PE funds, investments||$17.3 billion||60|
|Vista Equity Partners||2000||Austin, Texas||PE and venture capital in tech start-ups||$10 billion||over 100|