PEW European Awards 2021

As Biden entered the White House and signed a flurry of executive orders, the US rejoined the World Health Organization and signed up to partner with the organisation to aid low-income countries in gaining access to Covid-19 vaccines as part of a global coronavirus strategy.

This week BlackRock said it will make sustainability “integral to portfolio construction”. According to its CEO Larry Fink, the New York-headquartered American multinational investment group will put sustainability at the centre of its investment strategy.

Thoma Bravo launched a tech-focused SPAC valued at USD 900 million, while Goldman Sachs chief executive David M Solomon called out the recent explosive growth in SPACs, saying it is “unsustainable”.

Meanwhile, M&A valuations are increasing, with tech deals being the main driver. Private equity deal activity in Europe is set to grow further in 2021, as firms who held back on deal-making during the pandemic draw on dry powder and are able to take advantage of low interest rates. 

In other news this week, Blackstone raised more than USD3.1 billion for a growth capital fund. The private equity giant also gathered USD2.8 billion for a mezzanine debt fund called the Blackstone Capital Opportunities Fund.

In Europe, British low-alcohol spirits startup CleanCo raised GBP7 million from existing and new investors including Ursula Burns, board member of Uber and former board member of Diageo, and Stonebridge, a digital-first consumer brand investment firm set up by DTC entrepreneur James Cox. The company is benefitting from the growing interest in health initiatives among pandemic- and lockdown-affected millennials. 

According to newly released research by equity management platform Capdesk, 77 per cent of startup founders are saying that the Covid crisis has made them more likely to offer employee equity in their company.

In a PEW Wire podcast interview with Christian Gabriel, co-founder and CEO of Capdesk and Private Equity Wire’s editor Karin Wasteson, Gabriel shares his views on why the pandemic has made it more likely CEOs will offer employee ownership, how it could improve business performance and in what way it might further the post-pandemic recovery.

In this week’s feature on Private Equity Wire, James Williams profiles New York-based Grafine Partners, which was established by former Riverstone Holdings’ executive Elizabeth Weymouth.

The firm is hoping to fill what it regards as a key gap in the market, by providing institutional investors with a dedicated direct investment platform; one that places emphasis on patient, creative and sophisticated capital and a way for large investors to look beyond the usual ‘2 & 20’ fee model charged by traditional commingled funds. Read it to learn more.

Karin Wasteson
Editor, Institutional Asset Manager



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