In a year that witnessed one of the most active and dynamic periods in the history of the private equity real estate industry, it was only natural that 2006 would also herald our first annual awards.
For four weeks, our readers cast their votes in The 2006 Global PERE Awards, the only awards for the industry as voted directly by the industry. At stake were the top honors in 24 different categories, spanning the people, deals and firms that shaped the past year in the global asset class.
And now the votes are in.
In North America, top honors were dominated by a deal that didn’t even close in 2006—Equity Office—but one that nonetheless caught the attention of our readers and the financial community as a whole. North American Personality of the Year fell to the man at the helm of Equity Office, Sam Zell, a man with more personality than almost anyone else in the industry. North American Firm of the Year was nabbed by none other than The Blackstone Group, which not only held out to buy Equity Office in 2007, but which also dominated the public to private trend in the US. The specter of the largest private equity deal ever—well, not any more—also extended to the winners in North American Law Firm of the Year (Simpson Thacher) and North American Bank of the Year (Merrill Lynch), both of whom played a significant role in the EOP deal, as well as many others.
In Europe, by contrast, the awards were not dominated by any one deal or firm; rather, it was interesting to note the broad diversity of deals, firms and geographies represented. European Personality of the Year, for example, went to the suave head of Italy’s Pirelli RE, Carlo Puri-Negri, while Fortress grabbed European Deal of the Year for its flotation of Gagfah in Germany. A UK firm, the startup Benson Elliott founded by the former head of Doughty Hanson’s real estate arm, Marc Mogull, was named European Emerging Firm of the Year. And European Emerging Market of the Year fell to a country straddling East and West: Russia.
Asia, too, highlighted the diversity of the asset class in 2006. Lone Star chairman John Grayken, who shook off his normally reclusive persona to challenge the Korean authorities last year, took home Asian Personality of the Year, while Macquarie Global Property Advisors, which was active throughout the region (and has been for more than a decade, scored as Asian Firm of the Year. Japan was well represented in the Asian Deal of the Year, which fell to KK DaVinci’s acquisition of a stake in Pacific Century Place in Tokyo, while India, the home of Asian Emerging Firm of the Year IL&FS, was also tapped as Asian Emerging Market of the Year. Not to be left behind, China also got in on the action: ING, which raised its first opportunity fund focused on the Middle Kingdom, was honored for Asian Fundraising of the Year.
This was our first year hosting the awards and while we were heartened by the hundreds of votes we received, we anticipate the awards will only grow in size and stature as the years go by. If the level of activity seen in 2006 is any guide, there will be plenty of things to write about (and vote on) in 2007. Stay tuned.