Top 10 (based on AUM) Los Angeles Private Equity Firms

Whenever someone says, name the ‘top’ or ‘best’ private equity firms, I feel the only way to truly measure the success of a firm is via its ability to generate consistent returns for investors. This means delivering a list based on IRRs.

However, given how opaque and difficult it can be getting quality return info (firms love to brag about how much they’ve raised – just not how much they’ve returned), the second best unit of measure is then AUM (assets under management – which is often calculated as the total amount raised since firm inception). While AUM isn’t as useful as IRRs, it’s much easier to calculate and does indicate a firm’s ability to continually attract investors. After all, Leonard Green would not have been oversubscribed for its sixth, $9.6B fund had it not performed over the first 5.

Given this, and using data from Mergr (where you can easily sort/search firms based on AUM), here’s the list of the top 10 private equity firms based in Los Angeles.

1. Ares Private Equity Group

AUM: $24.9B

HQ: Los Angeles

Ares Private Equity Group is the private equity arm of Ares Management, a global alternative asset manager. Ares PE specializes in opportunistic majority/shared control investments in under-capitalized middle-market companies. Ares looks for companies with strong franchises and attractive growth opportunities. The Group prefers to be the lead investor and will invest across the capital structure, including common equity, preferred equity, convertible equity/debt and senior debt. Areas of interest include business services, defense, healthcare, manufacturing, industrial, energy and consumer products and services. Ares PE was formed in 2003.

2. Leonard Green & Partners

AUM: $24.8B

HQ: Los Angeles

Leonard Green & Partners was formed in 1989 and typically seeks to invest in established companies that are leaders in their respective markets. Types of transactions Leonard Green will consider include public-to-privates, recapitalizations of privately held businesses, growth capital financings, equity capital to facilitate acquisitions, turnarounds/restructurings, and acquisitions of divisions/assets from large corporations. Sectors of interest include consumer and business services, consumer products, distribution, media, and retail.

3. Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors LP

PE AUM: $8.6B (total AUM: $26B)

HQ: Los Angeles

Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors is an alternative investment management firm focused on a variety of investment strategies – including energy private equity, public securities, real estate, credit/mezzanine, and growth capital financing. Kayne’s private equity energy group focuses on $20 to $100 million investments in high-growth exploration and production, midstream and oilfield service companies. Kayne’s private equity growth practice involves structured investments in public and private companies looking for capital to finance expansion. Kayne Capital Advisors was formed in 1984.

4. Levine Leichtman Capital Partners

AUM: $7.5B

HQ: Beverly Hills

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) is a private investment firm that targets mezzanine and other structured equity investments in middle-market companies. The Firm has several funds, each with different strategies. LLCP’s larger fund targets subordinated debt, preferred equity, and/or common equity investments in companies with $100 to $750 million of revenue. The Firm’s smaller fund invests $5 to $15 million in emerging companies with less than $25 million in revenue. LLCP also invests in financially distressed businesses. LLCP was formed in 1984.

5. Platinum Equity

AUM: $7.2B

HQ: Beverly Hills

Entrance to Platinum’s Beverly Hills headquarters.

Platinum Equity is a private equity firm focused on acquiring divestitures of larger public companies primarily in North America and Europe. Historically, Platinum targeted technology/software related businesses, however, the firm has since branched out beyond tech and will consider acquisitions in a broad range of industries including chemicals, communications, logistics, healthcare, automotive, industrial products and business services. Platinum Equity was formed in 1995 by Tom Gores.

6. Freeman Spogli & Co.

AUM: $5B

HQ: Los Angeles

Freeman Spogli & Co. is a private equity firm focused on acquiring middle-market retail, direct marketing, and distribution companies. The Firm will consider opportunities throughout Northh America and prefers partnering with management when pursuing acquisitions. Freeman Spogli looks to invest $50 to $150 million in transactions valued up to $750 million. Freeman Spogli & Co. was established in 1983.

7. The Gores Group

AUM: $3.7B

HQ: Beverly Hills

The Gores Group’s headquarters in Beverly Hills.

The Gores Group is a private equity firm focused on acquiring controlling interests in mature and growing businesses. Gores will consider investments across North America and Europe and often targets non-core assets of public corporations. Founder Alec Gores is the older brother of Tom Gores (Platinum Equity). The Gores Group was formed in 1987.

8. Marlin Equity Partners

AUM: $3B

HQ: Hermosa Beach

Marlin Equity’s headquarters in Hermosa Beach.

Marlin Equity PartnersMarlin Equity Partners is a private equity firm focused on acquiring distressed businesses with sales of $10 million to $2 billion. Marlin has a special interest in non-core or underperforming divisions of larger corporations, as well as companies facing some sort of financial, operational or market-related transition. Marlin is a generalist investor and will consider opportunities in technology (software, IT, payment systems, hardware, communications, internet), healthcare, consumer (apparel, retail, consumer products, food/beverage), services (business, financial, consumer, education), manufacturing (automotive, industrial, metals, plastics), aerospace, defense, and media. Marlin Equity Partners was formed in 2005 by David McGovern (formerly of The Gores Group).

9. Aurora Capital Group

AUM: $2B

HQ: Los Angeles

Aurora Capital GroupAurora Capital Group is a private investment firm that manages private equity funds as well as investment vehicles focused on debt/equity securities. The Firm’s private equity practice seeks control investments in middle-market companies valued between $100 million and $1 billion. Target businesses are generally industry leaders that operate in defensible markets with sustainable margins. Sectors of interest include aerospace, industrial products and services, packaging, plastics, distribution, manufacturing, media, retail and chemicals. Aurora will only consider majority/control positions. Aurora Capital Group was formed in 1991.

10. Lovell Minnick Partners

AUM: $1.7B

HQ: El Segundo

Lovell Minnick Partners is a specialist private equity firm that targets investments in North American financial services companies. Specific areas of interest include asset management, financial planning, financial product distribution, brokerage, specialty finance, insurance, and related administration and business services companies. The Firm looks to commit $20 to $100 million of equity capital per investment. Prospective transaction situations include divestitures, management buyouts, growth capital financings, and recapitalizations. Lovell Minnick was formed in 1999.

To check out all Los Angeles private equity firms – consider signing-up for Mergr.

You’ll be able to identify sponsored vs unsponsored investors, specialist vs generalist, as well as look-up those firms that aren’t just based in Los Angeles, but have an office there.