Pitchbook’s 2020 Private Equity Awards

January 18, 2021

The rollercoaster 2020 is over. It may seem odd in the year of the pandemic, but some amazing things happened in private equity. Here’s a look at private equity (PE) data provider Pitchbook’s take on awards they would hand out for things accomplished during the past year.

Dealmaker of the Year

In a year when many companies worried about deploying significant financial capital, Thoma Bravo was not one of those. Thoma Bravo, a force in the technology world, struck four deals worth more than $2 billion this past year and concluded over 40 deals, beating their 2019 totals. Their deals include purchasing Sophos for $3.9 billion, buying Instructure for $2 billion, acquiring Flexera Software for around $2.85 billion, and buying RealPage for $10.2 billion.

It’s not just the investments that made Thoma Bravo Pitchbook’s top dealmaker of the year. Thoma Bravo also made billions. In September, Thoma Bravo unloaded Ellie Mae for around $11 billion, reaping a $9 billion profit according to Forbes. Thoma Bravo used just $2.2 billion in equity in the prior two years to acquire the company for $3.7 billion. Such a massive return so quickly is quite rare, and as such, warrants Thoma Bravo the award for private equity dealmaker of the year.

Source: Pitchbook

Deal of the Year

According to Pitchbook, the deal of the year was – wait for it – Dunkin’ Brands. Roark Capital-backed restaurant franchisor Inspire Brands purchased Dunkin’ Brands for a whopping $11.3 billion. Dunkin’ Brands is not only a breakfast chain, it is also the parent of ice cream company Baskin-Robbins. The move brings another iconic name underneath the Inspire Brand. Inspire Brand now operates Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, Sonic, and Arby’s. Inspire is now the second largest restaurant company in the U.S.

Some might worry that Roark Capital spent too much on the Dunkin’ brand. If history is any guide, that may not be the case. In just 2006, Bain Capital, The Carlyle Group, and Thomas H. Lee Partners acquired Dunkin’ Brands for around $2.4 billion and sold for about twice that much five years later, earning the three partners around $600 million each.

Fund of the Year

Last, Pitchbook’s fund of the year is Platinum Equity Capital Partners V. Around the globe, most fundraising activities for private equity companies tumbled. In going against the grain, the Beverly Hills buyout company closed its fifth fund at $10 billion, beating the $8 billion target it had set for itself and the $6.5 billion raked in by its predecessor. Fortune definitely favors the brave.

Summing Up

Overall, some amazing things are happening in the world of private equity. Pitchbook’s take on companies worthy of recognition show that. The 2021 year ahead may prove to be another year where some companies don’t let a crisis go to waste.

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