L Catterton has closed its eighth flagship buyout fund on $2.75 billion, the firm’s largest pool of capital in a quarter century of investing under several different names—most recently changing from just “Catterton” after a merger with L Capital earlier this year. The firm will deploy the oversubscribed vehicle, raised in just five months, to make investments of between $60 million and $500 million in middle-market consumer companies in North America and Europe.
The close continues a trend: Many of the private equity firms to raise $2 billion or more this year did so for the most recent iteration of long-running fund families, with a particular concentration of vehicles classified as the seventh, eighth or ninth in a series. Those funds account for more than half of the 16 biggest buyout funds raised in the US so far during 2016, according to the PitchBook Platform.
Here’s a rundown of some of the more notable names:
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As you can see, the biggest fund of the year—Advent’s $13 billion vehicle—is the eighth in a series, just like L Catterton’s most recent raise. The only other fund to top $10 billion, TPG’s, is the seventh of its ilk, as is Leonard Green & Partners’ $9.6 billion vehicle. BDT Capital Partners is the only interloper in the group of longtime industry heavyweights at the top of the list, having raised $6.2 billion for just its second-ever fund.
The primary reason for the correlation seems rather obvious: It usually takes many years and many successful funds to build up the sort of track record and connections needed to ask investors for billions of dollars. Perhaps more interesting is the various paths the firms in question have taken to get to this point.
Advent, for instance, has gradually increased the size of its funds one by one over the past decade-plus, slowly building up one of the largest war chests in the buyout industry. The story’s been much the same for Leonard Green & Partners, whose recent $9.6 billion fundraising for its seventh fund mirrors nicely the $10.8 billion collected by Advent for the seventh fund in its buyout series four years ago.
On the flip side of the coin are TPG and Kelso & Company, two firms for whom this year’s fundraising marks a significant downturn from prior vehicles. TPG Partners VII is the first since the firm famously gathered nearly $20 billion just before the financial crisis, a mark that would obviously be difficult to equal in the current climate. Kelso & Co., meanwhile, nearly halved the size of its predecessor fund—another pre-crisis vehicle, which closed on $5.1 billion—after logging somewhat disappointing returns (an 8.5% IRR as of 2Q).
The examples highlight the two possible paths ahead for L Catterton and its new fund. Will it be a precursor to still larger buyout vehicles in the years to come, or will it serve as a high-water mark for the firm’s fundraising efforts?
Check back in, say, five years for the answer.
Article by Kevin Dowd, PitchBook