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Private equity is a global industry that entails investing in non-public companies through privately negotiated transactions and results in the private ownership of businesses. The industry has grown exponentially over the past 30 years.

While most private equity transactions involve investments in private companies, they can range from the financing of start-up entities to infusing growth equity into an expanding company to buying out mature public or private enterprises. What is common to most private equity investments is that the investor group often acquires a large or significant ownership stake in the company through highly structured and negotiated transactions.

Private equity firms usually look to retain their investment for between three and seven years or more. They have a range of investment preferences and/or types of financing required. It is important that you only approach those private equity firms whose preferences match your requirements. Just as you and your management team are competing for finance, so are private equity firms, as they raise their funds from a number of different sources. To obtain their funds, private equity firms have to demonstrate a good track record and the prospect of producing returns greater than can be achieved through fixed interest or quoted equity investments. Private equity firms’ investment preferences may be affected by the source of their funds. Many funds raised from external sources are structured as limited partnerships and usually have a fixed life of 10 years.


The list of top 10 private equity firms in the world based on the Assets Under Management (AUM) is given below. Please note that the below list is neither a ranking nor a performance-based list. We have considered the AUM as on the date of update of this article, obtained from each firm’s website or available in public domains.

1. Blackstone Group

Founded in 1985 and headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Dubai, Blackstone is the world’s largest alternative asset manager. The firm seeks to create positive economic impact and long-term value for investors, the companies they invest in, and the communities in which they work. The $915 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, infrastructure, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis.

  • Founded: 1985
  • Headquarters: New York, New York, United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $915 billion
  • CEO- Stephen A. Schwarzman
2. Apollo Global Management

Apollo Global Management is a private equity and investment management firm founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York City, New York. The firm offers performing and non-performing loans, insurance-linked securities, asset-backed securities, distressed debt, senior bank loans, structured credit, and other fixed-income products to clients. The firm caters to industry groups including, chemicals, consumer products, and services, retail, oil and gas, distribution and transportation, financial and business services, media, telecom, and technology among others.

  • Founded: 1990
  • Headquarters: New York, New York, United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $498 billion
  • CEO: Marc Rowan (as on May 2022)
3. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)

KKR is a global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit, and, through its strategic partners, hedge funds. The company generates attractive investment returns for its fund investors through a patient and disciplined investment

  • Founded: 1976
  • Headquarters: New York, New York, United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $479 billion
  • Founders: George R Roberts, Henry Kravis, Jerome Kohlberg, Ken Mehlman, Robert W. Antablin, Scott Nuttall
4. The Carlyle Group

Carlyle is one of the world’s largest and most diversified global investment firms, with $325 billion of assets under management across 3 business segments and 498 investment vehicles. Founded in 1987 in Washington, DC, the firm’s global team today is comprised of nearly 1,900 professionals operating in 26 offices across five continents. Together, across the firm, the mission is to drive long-term value for investors, companies, shareholders, people and communities.

  • Founded: 1987
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $325 billion
  • CEO: Kewsong Lee
5. CVC Capital Partners

Founded in 1981, CVC Capital Partners is a private equity firm based in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. The firm prefers to invest in the building & construction, business services, chemicals, consumer & retail, energy & utilities, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, media, tech & telecommunications, and transport & infrastructure sectors. The firm invests in businesses across Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

  • Founded: 1981
  • Headquarters: Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Assets Under Management (AUM) – US$122 billion
  • Founders: Donald Mackenzie, Rolly van Rappard, Steve Koltes

6. TPG Capital

TPG is a leading global alternative asset management firm founded in San Francisco in 1992 with investment and operational teams in 12 offices globally. TPG invests across five multi-product platforms: Capital, Growth, Impact, Real Estate, and Market Solutions and the unique strategy is driven by collaboration, innovation, and inclusion. TPG teams combine deep product and sector experience with broad capabilities and expertise to develop differentiated insights and add value for the fund investors, portfolio companies, management teams, and communities.

  • Founded: 1992
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, California, United States
  • CEO: Jon Winkelried (Oct 2015–), James Coulter (1992–)
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $120 billion
7. Thoma Bravo

Thoma Bravo is a leading private equity firm with a 40-year history and a focus on investing in software and technology companies. The firm pioneered the buy-and-build investment strategy and first applied this strategy to the software and technology industries nearly 20 years ago. Since then, the firm has acquired or invested in more than 350 software and technology companies representing over $155 billion in value. The investment philosophy is centered around working collaboratively with existing management teams to drive superior operating results and innovation. The firm executes through a partnership-driven approach supported by a set of management principles, operating metrics and business processes. The firm supports the companies by investing in growth initiatives and strategic acquisitions that drive long-term value.

  • Founded: 2008
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $103 billion
  • Founder: Orlando Bravo
8. EQT Partners

Founded in 1994, EQT is a private equity firm based in Stockholm, Sweden. The firm prefers to invest in growth-stage companies through buyouts. The firm also prefers to invest in early-stage and later-stage companies through venture capital investments in Europe, Asia, Oceania, North America, and Central America. EQT is a purpose-driven global investment organization with close to three decades of consistent investment performance across multiple geographies, sectors, and strategies.

  • Founded: 1994
  • Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- US$100.0 billion
  • CEO: Christian Sinding
9. Vista Equity Partners

Vista Equity Partners is a private equity firm headquartered in Austin, Texas. The firm employs private equity, permanent capital, credit, and public equity investment strategies with a focus to invest in software, agriculture, construction, education, energy, financial services, government, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, legal, marketing, media, entertainment, real estate, retail, security, telecom, transportation, and technology-enabled business sectors. Vista has invested in hundreds of companies, including Misys, Ping Identity, and Marketo.

  • Founded: 2000
  • Headquarters: Austin, Texas, United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $93 billion
  • Founder and CEO: Robert F Smith
10. HarbourVest Partners

HarbourVest Partners is an independent, global private markets investment specialist with over 35 years of experience and more than $80 billion in assets under management, as of June 30, 2021. The Firm’s powerful global platform offers clients investment opportunities in private equity, private credit and real assets through primary fund investments, secondary investments, and direct co-investments, in commingled funds or separately managed accounts. The firm seeks to invest in early-stage, growth-stage, later-stage, and mezzanine companies through buyouts in companies operating in the business products, business services, consumer products, consumer services, information technology, healthcare, financial services, materials, resources, SaaS, manufacturing, e-commerce, industrials, machinery. 3D printing, payments, processing, and technology-based sectors across the United States, Europe, America, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Oceania.

  • Founded: 1982
  • Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • Assets Under Management (AUM)- $92 billion
  • CEO: John Toomey, Jr.

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About the author

Dileep K Nair

Mr Dileep is currently the managing partner of Unifinn Capital Global and an advisor to the investment banking and corporate finance world. He is a mentor, entrepreneur and business advisor with an overall 19 years experience, 12 plus years of banking and finance experience and 7 plus years experience in investment banking and corporate finance, with relevant experience in handling private equity transactions, private debt, venture capital, angel investing, M&A, other growth capital transactions and real estate financing transactions.





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