1. IPO of the year: CBPE – Xaffinity

Xafinity provides a range of actuarial, pensions, healthcare and other employee benefits consulting and administration services. It is headquartered in Reading, with c. 400 employees operating from six regional UK offices. CBPE Capital invested in Xafinity in 2013, acquiring the business from the Equiniti Group. The acquisition represented the opportunity to separate a non-core division from a larger parent group and allow it to develop as an independent entity.

In a year when the IPO window seems to have been open for most of the year, Xaffinity stands out not just because of the 4.3x money return for CBPE, but the fact that CBPE were able to take 100% cash out and different members of the management team took out 50% to 100% of their value.

  1. Tertiary of the year: Bridgepoint Development Capital – Inspired Thinking Group

Birmingham-based Inspired Thinking Group ('ITG') was established in 2009 to serve the growing requirement of marketers to manage campaign complexity and increase speed to market. It has successfully leveraged the trend for decoupling the 'creative' and 'execution' elements of marketing campaigns, using a cloud-based workflow system work flow platform and by providing 24/7 campaign execution such as multi-media content generation and campaign fulfilment services.

Not to be outdone by the public markets, Equistone acquired ITG from Bridgepoint (which had previously acquired the business from LivingBridge). This demonstrates that different private equity houses can support businesses through different phases in their lifecycle without the need to access public markets or sell to trade.

  1. Hat-trick award: Dunedin – Alpha FM, Blackrock Expert Solutions, Kee Safety

Special mention to Dunedin which has delivered three stellar exits in a short period of time. In October, Dunedin announced the sale of Kee Safety, a global supplier of safety solutions and products designed to protect people from hazards, to Investcorp. The sale valued the company at £280m and made a return of three times money invested. The exit maintained Dunedin’s current high level of transactional activity, coming just one week after the successful IPO of Alpha Financial Markets and soon after the August sale of Blackrock Expert Services. As a result, Dunedin will be able to generate a total cash return of £230m for its investors within three months.

  1. CSR award; Phoenix – Porthaven Care Homes

Phoenix Equity Partners recently announced the sale of Porthaven Group, owner and operator of premium quality care homes, to Fremont Realty Capital and co-investors. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but in a sector where other private equity houses have generated negative publicity, this transaction demonstrates they can build shareholder value whilst demonstrating their commitment to corporate, social and responsible investment.

  1. Patient capital award: Primary Capital – Thompson & Morgan

Primary Capital originally invested in Thompson & Morgan (T&M) in 2002. Founded in 1855 and based in Ipswich, T&M is the leading horticultural brand in the UK, selling young plants, bulbs, nursery stock plants, flower and vegetable seeds, fruit, potatoes and garden accessories. It sells through a variety of channels including catalogue, online, retail, readers offers & promotions and TV shopping. Fifteen years later, Primary announced the sale of T&M to BVG Group generating a return of 2.9x the cost of investment for Primary’s second Fund.