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Nasdaq Private Fund Trends Report 21/22

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In this report we explore top private markets themes from the year as well as public pension plan commitment activity from across the various private markets asset classes and the top GPs and LP allocators. Click through the tabs below for all the insights.

2021 in Review

After a year of virtual fundraising, it was anyone’s guess what business as usual would look like in the private markets moving into 2021. While some strides were made towards returning to pre-2020 practices, for most in the industry the fundraising process in 2021 remained a distanced one.

Despite this status quo, one feature of 2020’s virtual fundraising environment was less prevalent in 2021: the number of allocators staying on the sidelines. The “wait and see” approach that plagued capital raises in 2020 receded in 2021 as more LPs re-entered the market and put capital to work. Across the private markets 228 unique public pension plans reported commitments to private funds in the year, a 17% increase from 2020. In total, these allocators reported $190.8 billion in commitments, a 18% YoY increase.

Themes from 2021

Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)

ESG is quickly becoming a perennial theme within the private markets which points to the growth of its importance to both LP allocators and fund managers. Private markets funds pursuing ESG strategies raised over $4.8 billion from public plan allocators tracked by Nasdaq eVestment in the year. Top strategies included energy transition, sustainable infrastructure, and affordable housing. Notable fund managers raising ESG focused funds in 2021 included BlackRock, The Carlyle Group, Kayne Anderson, and TPG Capital.

While ESG specific funds tend to be in the real estate or real assets spaces, more GPs in private equity and private debt are incorporating ESG criteria in their core investment criteria.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Initiatives related to DEI in the private markets gained considerable momentum in 2021. FCLTGlobal released a comprehensive report on creating long-term value through portfolio company board diversity in July and in November the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA) updated its diversity metrics template to help allocators with ongoing monitor of DEI data points.

These resources bolster the work many LP allocators were already doing to create a more inclusive industry. From industry events like the Texas TRS / ERS Emerging Manager Conference to emerging & diverse investment programs from plans like New York State Common Retirement Fund (Emerging Manager Program of the CRF) and Connecticut Retirement (Connecticut Inclusive Investment Initiative), LP investors are making significant strides on DEI moving into 2022.

In collaboration with both these organizations, Nasdaq announced that, through its eVestment platform, it will make its private fund manager DEI data available to investors free of charge in an effort to improve transparency and disclosure standardization across the industry.

Secondaries

In 2021 the secondaries market saw the continued proliferation of GP-led deals as fund managers sought to provide liquidity for their LPs while also gaining additional time and capital to fully realize the potential value of their best performing assets. The year also saw limited partners engaging in their own secondaries transactions as they seek to manage their illiquid portfolios more actively.

While direct activity in secondaries transactions by LPs has increased, so has secondary fund investing. Public pension plans reported nearly $2.8 billion in commitments to secondaries funds in 2021, a significant jump from the $914 million reported in 2020. Looking forward to 2022, eleven secondaries funds seeking a total of $21 billion of funding are confirmed to be in-market fundraising for a first close in 2022.

With these unprecedented levels of dry powder, all signs point to a record year for secondaries transactions in 2022.

The table below features a sample of secondaries funds targeting first closes in 2022.

Overview

In 2021, 146 public pension plans reported dollar commitments of $84.3 billion to private equity funds. The year-end total represents a 1% decrease from 2020, however there was a 13% increase in the number of commitments reported (1,197). On a per commitment basis, public plan allocations averaged $70.4 million in 2021, down 12% YoY.

In total, 146 public pension plans reported commitments in 2021, a 5% increase compared to the previous year suggesting an increased level of comfort with virtual fundraising from public plan allocators.

Mirroring 2020, the second quarter of 2021 saw the most activity from public plans with $27.1 billion in reported dollar commitments. Commitment activity leveled off in the last two quarters of the year to $18.4 billion and $18.9 billion respectively, less than the totals seen in the corresponding quarters in 2020. That said, quarterly commitments to private equity from public plans have continued to trend upward since 2019.

Top Private Equity GPs

Hellman & Friedman took top spot for 2021 with over $4.5 billion in reported dollar commitments from public plans. Commitments were primarily reported to the GP’s latest flagship fund, Hellman & Friedman X, which saw the most commitments of any fund in the year (28). CalSTRS reported the largest commitment to the fund manager with $600 million while six other allocators reported commitments of over $250 million. In total, 31 different public plans reported commitments.

Clearlake Capital Partners VII was the second most popular fund in the year with 22 reported commitments from public plans totaling just over $2.0 billion. Other notable funds include Genstar Capital Partners X, Insight Venture Partners XII, and Summit Partners Growth Equity Fund XI, each of which garnered fifteen reported commitments from public plans.

Taking second place in terms of total dollar commitments was TA Associates with $3.4 billion. While the GP raised two funds in the year, TA XIV and TA Select Opportunities II, the bulk of the capital raised from public plans went to the former, a reported $2.8 billion from 19 different allocators.

Rounding out the top three in 2021 was KKR who raised over $3.0 billion from public plans. Reported commitments flowed primarily to three different vehicles from the GP, KKR North America XIII, KKR Asia IV, and KKR Health Care Strategic Growth II.

Top Private Equity Allocators

Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) was the most active public pension plan allocator to private equity in 2021 with $6.6 billion in reported commitments. On a per commitment basis, WSIB was also the top allocator with an average commitment size of $411 million. Notable commitments from WSIB in the year include $750 million to KKR North America XIII, $600 million to TA XIV, and $850 million to TPG Capital across three funds.

The next largest allocator to the asset class was CalPERS with $6.3 billion reported across 28 commitments. A notable feature of the pension plan’s commitments was the use of co-investments. When committing to funds from Carlyle, Summit Partners, and Thoma Bravo, CalPERS also added a commitment to an associated co-investment vehicle. Other commitments such as those to Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and Blackstone went directly to co-investment projects.

In terms of number of commitments, Wisconsin Investment Board was the most active pension plan in 2021 with 59 reported commitments totaling nearly $4.4 billion. Of the top ten public plan allocators in the year, Wisconsin Investment Board had the smallest average commitment size at $74 million. Fund managers seeing commitments from Wisconsin Investment Board included Francisco Partners, GTCR, Providence Equity Partners, and Stone Point Capital.

Top 20 GPs by Capital
Raised From Public Plans

Looking forward to 2022

According to data from Nasdaq eVestment, 248 private equity funds seeking to raise $482 billion in commitments are confirmed to be fundraising with a first close in 2022. This figure includes four buyout funds each targeting fund sizes over $20 billion. In total, eleven buyout funds targeting fund sizes over $10 billion will have a first close in 2022, nearly double the number from 2021.

Venture capital is seeing a similar surge in “mega-sized” funds with fourteen confirmed funds targeting at least $1 billion fund sizes. This is a sizeable increase from the eight $1 billion venture funds that held a first close in 2021.

When incorporating funds projected to be in market, total fundraising from private equity managers could top $600 billion in 2022. Projections are determined using proprietary analysis from Nasdaq eVestment of historical vintage year, fund size, and commitment pacing data.

As of 12/31/2021, 89 pension plans were under-allocated to private equity against on their stated target allocations by an average of $222 million. This represents $19.8 billion in open allocations for fund managers.

See the tables below for a breakdown of some of the largest private equity funds targeting a first close in 2022.

Top Buyout Funds Targeting a 2022 First Close

Top VC Funds Targeting a 2022 First Close

Overview

Private debt funds saw $39.7 billion in reported dollar commitments from public pension plans in 2021, a 14% increase from 2020. The number of commitments increased in near lockstep, from 332 in 2020 to 375 in 2021, a 13% jump. On average, public plans committed $105.8 per allocation.

The increasing focus on private debt from allocators spurred by the market dislocations created by the pandemic continued into 2021 as 117 different public pension plans reported commitments to the asset class, a 34% increase from 2020.

Since 2Q 2020 quarterly reported commitments to private debt funds from public plans have consistently topped $8.0 billion per quarter. In the preceding six quarters total reported commitments only surpassed this threshold twice, in 1Q 2019 and 4Q 2019. Public plan commitments to private debt funds peaked in 4Q 2021 at $12.6 billion and fund managers can anticipate continued interest in the asset class moving into 2022.

Top Private Debt GPs

Ares Management saw a reported $4.2 billion in commitments flow into their private debt funds, making the GP the top destination for pension plan allocations to the asset class in 2021. The total represents 27 reported commitments, the most received by any private debt manager in the year. Most of these allocations flowed into three funds: Ares Capital Europe V, Ares Senior Direct Lending Fund II, and Ares Special Situations Fund II. While most allocators reported a single commitment to Ares, two plans: CalPERS and Texas County each reported commitments to multiple Ares funds.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s second place position in terms of dollar commitments ($2.6 billion) was driven almost exclusively by allocations from CalPERS and New Jersey Division of Investment. Each LP reported over $1.0 billion in private debt commitments to the fund manager.

After Ares, Sixth Street saw the most commitments reported in the year with fifteen. Six of these commitments went to the fund manager’s Sixth Street Opportunities Partners V with the remainder spread across several strategies including Sixth Street TAO, Sixth Street Specialty Lending Europe II, and Sixth Street Growth Fund II.

At the fund-level, Strategic Value Partners’ Strategic Value Special Situations Fund V saw ten reported commitments from public plans in 2021, more than any other private debt fund. Allocators reporting commitments included Connecticut Retirement, New Mexico SIC, and Sacramento County ERS. According to the investment memo from Connecticut Retirement, the $4 billion fund will, “make distressed debt investments to establish influential or control positions in middle market companies and assets in North America and Europe.”

Top Private Debt Allocators

CalPERS was the most active allocator to private debt in 2021 with six colossal commitments totaling nearly $4.0 billion. A quarter of this total went to Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s West Street Strategic Solutions Fund I and an associated co-investment vehicle.

New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) was the second most active allocator with over $3.4 billion of reported commitments. The pension plan allocated to a mix of comingled funds and separately managed account vehicles. Intermediate Capital Group and Strategic Value Partners saw SMA commitments of $750 million and $500 million respectively from NYSCRF while Blackstone Capital Opportunities Fund IV and Francisco Credit Partners II each received a $250 million commitment. NYSCRF also reported $40 million in commitments to Altura Capital, an emerging manager making mezzanine debt and private equity investments in the consumer products, food & beverage, business services, and healthcare services industries.

Illinois Teachers was the most active pension plan in terms of number of commitments with 20 reported in the year. The pension plan spread the commitments across sixteen different fund managers including Apollo, Arbour Lane Capital, IFM Investors, and SLR Capital.

Top 20 GPs by Capital
Raised
From Public Plans

Looking forward to 2022

According to data from Nasdaq eVestment, 32 private debt funds seeking a total of $55.1 billion in commitments are confirmed to be in market for a first close in 2022. Direct lending funds account for $17.1 billion of this total while mezzanine and special situations strategies each represent over $13 billion of projected fundraising.

Projections suggest that fundraising for private debt could reach $95 billion in the year with $34 billion of that total flowing to direct lending funds.

As of 12/31/2021, 50 public plans were under-allocated to private debt against their targets, representing $14.6 billion in open opportunities for managers. On average these pension plans have $292 million in capacity for new private debt commitments.

See the tables for a selection of some of the largest private debt funds targeting first closes in 2022.

Overview

2021 was an excellent year for real estate fundraising as reported dollar commitments from public plans reached $41.0 billion, a 59% increase from the previous year.

After a slow start in 1Q 2021 which mirrored levels seen through 2020, reported commitment activity from public plans spiked to $12.0 billion in 2Q 2021 and remained elevated through the remainder of the year with commitment totals of $11.1 billion and $10.8 billion in 3Q 2021 and 4Q 2021 respectively.

Prior to 2Q 2021, the last time quarterly commitments to real estate funds from public plans topped $10.0 billion was 3Q 2019. The flurry of activity from these allocators suggests that they now feel more comfortable with the outlook for real estate, which was perhaps the hardest hit private markets asset class during the height of the pandemic.

A total of 151 public pension plan allocators reported commitments to real estate funds in 2021, a 41% increase from the number reporting in 2020. All signs point to 2022 being another strong year of fundraising for real estate.

Top Real Estate GPs

The Carlyle Group was the top real estate manager in 2021 on both a reported dollar commitments and number of commitments basis, gathering $2.3 billion from 21 commitments. The fund manager’s latest flagship real estate fund, Carlyle Realty Partners IX, received fourteen of these allocations, more than any other real estate fund in 2021, for a total of $1.8 billion. A further $528 million flowed to Carlyle Property Investors.

Brookfield was runner-up to Carlyle in two regards. After Carlyle Realty Partners IX, Brookfield Strategic Real Estate Partners IV had the second most commitments reported from public plans: eleven for a total of $1.4 billion. Overall, the fund manager saw $1.9 billion in reported commitments, also good for second place among real estate GPs.

Just behind Brookfield in terms of reported dollar commitments in the year was Blackstone with just under $1.9 billion. Public plan allocators reported commitments to five different Blackstone funds including Blackstone BioMed Life Science Real Estate and Blackstone Real Estate Partners Asia III.

Other funds popular with public plans included Almanac Realty Securities IX, Basis Investment Group Real Estate Fund II, Centerbridge Partners Real Estate Fund II and Clarion Partners’ Lion Industrial Trust. Almanac Realty Securities IX saw ten commitments while the other three garnered eight commitments apiece.

Top Real Estate Allocators

Public pension heavyweight CalPERS was the top pension plan allocator real estate in 2021 via six sizeable commitments totaling more than $4.3 billion. Among the allocations was a $1.0 billion reported commitment to Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies IV.

Wisconsin Investment Board was another highly active pension plan in the year spreading $2.8 billion across 26 reported commitments, the most reported by any allocator. The pension plan allocated to a wide range of real estate property types including, multi-family, single-family, industrial, office, and hotel. Notable commitments include $300 million to BentallGreenOak US Cold Storage, $100 million to Penwood Select Industrial Partners VI, and $100 million to CBRE GIP Medical Office Venture Fund.

Excluding CalPERS, CalSTRS had the largest average commitment size with $315 million. Commitments were made to a mix of comingled funds, co-investment vehicles, and separately managed accounts. The plan’s largest allocation, $727 million, went a strategy focused on Canadian logistics managed by Principal Real Estate Investors. CalSTRS also allocated $300 million evenly between Artemis Real Estate Partners Healthcare Fund II and a related co-investment vehicle.

Top 20 GPs by Capital
Raised
From Public Plans

Looking forward to 2022

According to data from Nasdaq eVestment, 28 real estate funds seeking a total of $62.1 billion in commitments are confirmed to be in market for a first close in 2022. Projections based on historical fundraising trends of real estate managers suggest this figure could jump to nearly $90 billion with more than 50 funds seeking new commitments in the year.

As of 12/31/2021, 163 plans were under-allocated to real estate against their targets, representing $39.1 billion in opportunities for managers. On average these pension plans had $230.1 million in capacity for new real estate commitments.

See the tables for a selection of some of the largest real estate funds with confirmed first closes in 2022.

Overview

Mirroring real estate, commitments from public pension plans to real assets funds jumped significantly from 2020 to 2021. Public plan allocators reported dollar commitments of $25.8 billion in the year, a 66% YoY jump. The figure was more comparable with the activity seen in 2019 when plans reported $23.4 billion in commitments to real assets. The number of commitments reported in 2021 also bounced back to a total of 261, comparable to the 241 reported in 2019.

In terms of individual public pension plans reporting commitments, 2021 saw a 25% increase in unique allocators committing to the asset class.

Through the first half of 2021, quarterly commitment activity was tracking at levels in line with those of Q2 2020 through Q4 2020, staying with a band of $4.3 billion to $5.0 billion. However, Q3 2021 saw reported commitments increase to $6.3 billion and then truly break out in Q4 2021 when reported commitments jumped to $9.9 billion. While that figure was heavily influenced by nearly $4 billion in reported real assets commitments from CalPERS, the overall activity in the second half of 2021 suggests strong tailwinds for fundraising in the asset class moving into 2022.

Top Real Assets GPs

KKR was far and away the top destination for real assets commitments from pension plans in 2021. The fund manager saw approximately $3.2 billion in reported commitments, 56% more than the next closest GP. Thirteen different allocators reported commitments to KKR Global Infrastructure IV for a total of nearly $1.7 billion. KKR Diversified Core Infrastructure Fund gathered a further $1.1 billion from eight additional pension plans.

Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners was the only other real assets fund manager to attract more than ten commitments from public plan allocators. These commitments flowed primarily to the manager’s latest flagship fund, Stonepeak Infrastructure Fund IV. Additional commitments were reported to Stonepeak Asia Infrastructure Fund and a co-investment strategy. In total the GP raised nearly $1.4 billion from public plans.

Global Infrastructure Partners and QIC Limited achieved their top fundraising positions thanks to outsized commitments from a single allocator, CalPERS who reported commitments of $2 billion and $1.6 billion respectively to the fund managers.

Real assets stalwarts Brookfield and EQT each had strong years with the former raising $1.4 billion across several strategies and the latter seeing $750 million in reported commitments to EQT Infrastructure V.

Another notable GP in the year was Grain Management. The emerging manager raised $450 million for Grain Communications Opportunity Fund III and a related co-investment vehicle.

Top Real Assets Allocators

In terms of number of commitments reported, Los Angeles County ERA (LACERA) was the most active pension plan allocator to real assets in 2021 with nine reported commitments totaling nearly $1.7 billion. Seven of these commitments went to infrastructure or digital infrastructure funds including $500 million to KKR Diversified Core Infrastructure Fund, $100 million to Antin Mid Cap Fund I and $100 million to Smart Infrastructure Capital Partners Fund I.

Illinois Teachers followed closely with $1.3 billion across eight reported commitments. In addition to commitments to established managers like Blackstone, Brookfield, and KKR, the pension plan also reported a $60 million commitment to emerging manager Brasa Capital.

On a per commitment basis, only CalPERS had a larger average commitment size than New York State Common Retirement Fund. The pension plan allocated an average $313 million to infrastructure funds managed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, EQT, KKR, and Northleaf Capital.

Top 20 GPs by Capital
Raised
From Public Plans

Looking forward to 2022

Moving into 2022, confirmed and projected data from Nasdaq eVestment suggest that 27 real assets funds will be in the marketing seeking to raise over $65 billion. In keeping with recent trends in the asset class, a vast majority will be infrastructure funds. Energy funds represent only 19% of funds confirmed or projected to be in market.

As of 12/31/2021, 83 plans were under their target allocations for real assets which translates to $33.9 billion in open opportunities for managers. On average these pension plans had $394 million in capacity for new real assets commitments.

See the tables below for a breakdown of the largest real assets funds targeting a first close in 2022.

Top 20 of 2020

The lists below rank the top 20 GPs and LPs respectively in terms of total reported commitments from public pension plans across all private asset classes for 2020. Click through the tabs for asset class specific ranks and insights.

Top 20 GPs by Capital Raised

Top 20 LPs by Reported Commitments

Bonus: Top Private Equity Consultants in 2021

Below are the top ten private equity consultants by dollar commitments advised in 2021.

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About this Report

All information contained in this report has been sourced from Nasdaq’s eVestment platform, with data collated in January 2022.

About eVestment Data

For the private markets, the eVestment platform brings together granular and actionable insights across the investor, consultant and fund manager landscape, alongside powerful portfolio analytics and benchmarking tools. Unlike market databases that only scratch the surface and provide users with static and opaque fund return data, our market intelligence platform collects and surfaces information directly from investor-authored and published documents for greater accuracy, transparency, and context. The output is a categorized, verifiable and searchable database of 8,000+ investors & consultants and 6,000+ private fund managers that gives a deep and comprehensive view market activity, performance, and more.

Methodologies

The commitment data in the report is sourced from the Nasdaq eVestment platform, which aggregates documents, videos, presentations and more from over 475 public pension plans in the United States, Canada, and Europe and from their investment consultants.
Forward looking fundraising data on confirmed funds is sourced from fundraising GPs and trusted media outlets while projected funds are determined using proprietary analysis from Nasdaq eVestment of historical vintage year, fund size, and fund deployment data.

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