12 Largest Private Equity Firms In The World [In 2024]

A private equity firm is like an investment management company that puts money into privately held or non-public businesses using funds gathered from various investors. These investors include high-net-worth individuals, insurance companies, pension funds, endowments, and other institutional investors.

In the private equity sector, these investors are called limited partners, or LPs. They have limited liability and don’t get a say in how the funds are managed. The responsibility for managing the funds and making investment decisions in private equity firms falls on the general partners or GPs. The GPs have full market liability.

How Private Equity Works?  

Private equity firms acquire significant ownership in private companies through direct investments. They then implement aggressive strategies to increase the overall value of these companies, aiming for a profitable resale or, in some instances, an early initial public offering (IPO).

Despite the evolving landscape where many private equity firms employ specialized investment approaches, certain strategies like leveraged buyouts, distressed funding, and growth capital continue to be prominent.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the world’s largest private equity firms based on factors such as their assets under management (AUM), the amount they’ve raised in funds, and their track record of successful investments.

Did you know? 

Despite economic challenges, it is projected that the total global AUM will surpass $18.3 trillion by the end of 2027. If we factor in hedge funds, the combined AUM for alternative assets is expected to reach $23.3 trillion by the same year.

12. Vista Equity Partners

AUM: $100 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $17 billion (2019)

Notable Holdings: Ping Identity Corp. (identity management), Pluralsight (educational), Pipedrive (sales and marketing)

Vista Equity Partners is one of the largest and most successful tech-focused private equity firms with $75 billion of assets under management. Since its inception in 2000, Vista Partners has invested in more than 70 companies with a net transaction value of over $173 billion.

In 2018, Pitchbook ranked Vista Partners as the top investor in the software industry, ahead of the likes of Thoma Bravo and KKR. That same year, Buyouts magazine named Vista’s Marketo sale to Adobe, at $4.75 billion, the Deal of the Year.

In 2022, Vista, together with Evergreen Coast Capital, bought Citrix Systems for $16.5 billion. The following year, Vista and Blackstone acquired Energy Exemplar for $1.6 billion.

Vista Partners is based in Austin, Texas, and has four other offices across the United States. Some of its noteworthy investments and buyouts include Cvent (event management software) for $1.6 billion, Ping Identity for $600 million, and Pipedrive (CRM) for $1.5 billion.

11. Warburg Pincus

AUM: $83 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $15 billion in 2007 and 2018

Notable Holdings: Ant Group, Warburg Pincus, PayScale

The history of Warburg Pincus can be traced back to 1939 when the prominent Warburg banking family established E.M. Warburg & Co. It merged with the financial consultancy firm Pincus. Co in 1966 to form E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co.

The new firm specializes in venture investing. It managed some of the largest venture capital funds in the 1980s and 1990s. Warburg Pincus is also the founding member of several venture capital associations in the United States.

However, after the 1970s, the firm gradually developed strategies to invest in more mature companies (private equity), which later became the firm’s focus. Today, Warburg Pincus deals exclusively in growth investments in various sectors, including financial services, healthcare, real estate, technology, and business services.

Since its inception, Warburg Pincus has invested $100 billion in more than 100 companies globally.

10. Hellman & Friedman LLC

AUM: $92 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $20 billion (2021)

Notable Holdings: Allfunds (fund distribution), Edelman Financial Engines (investing advisor), UKG (HR management)

Hellman & Friedman LLC is a San Francisco, California-based private equity firm that mainly focuses on leveraged buyouts and growth capital. It was founded in 1984 by two former investment bankers, Warren Hellman and Tully Friedman.

Before establishing the company, Hellman was a founding partner at a venture capital firm Hellman, Ferri Investment Associates (now known as Matrix Partners). Tully Friedman co-founded another PE firm, Friedman Fleischer & Lowe (FFL Partners), in 1997.

Hellman & Friedman has a track record of earning quick returns on its investments. In February 2000, the firm acquired 37.5% of Formula One Group (the holding company behind FIA Formula One World Championships) for about $750 million. The firm sold its stake to a German media company in less than a month for a hefty profit.

Through investments in growth opportunities, Hellman & Friedman has made early profits on companies like AlixPartners (consultancy), Getty Images, Goodman Global (heating and air conditioning), and Axel Springer (publishing).

9. Thoma Bravo

AUM: $130 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $17.8 billion (2020)

Notable Holdings: Sophos, Imperva (IT security), SolarWinds (IT management), Qlik (analytics), J.D Power (market research)

Thoma Bravo, LP, is a US-based private equity firm that specializes in technology and software company investments. Since its inception in 1980, the firm has invested in or acquired more than 300 technology companies with a total value of $85 billion.

In 2020, its flagship buyout fund (Thoma Bravo XIV) raised a record $17.8 billion, the largest by any tech-focused private equity fundraising at that time. It was only eclipsed by Silver Lake Partners’ $20 billion fundraising in 2021.

A joint research published in 2019 by Dow Jones and HEC Paris, an international private business school in France, ranked Thoma Bravo the best-performing PE firm on aggregate based on funds raised between 2005 and 2014. Its funds have a net annual return of 30%, higher than some of the largest PE firms.

Thoma Bravo has an illustrious and long-standing history. The firm succeeded Thoma Cressey Equity Partner, a middle-market investment firm that broke out from Golder Thoma & Co. in 1998. Golder Thoma & Co. (GTCR) is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of consolidation investment strategy.

8. Bain Capital

AUM: $180 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $11.8 billion (2007)

Notable Holdings: Varsity Brands, Virgin Australia, U.S LBM Holdings

Bain Capital is a Boston-based alternative investment firm that engages in venture capital, fixed income (credit), private equity, and sector-focused investment cycles. The firm was established by management consultancy Bain & Company as a separate entity in 1984.

In its early years, Bain Capital concentrated on venture deals, handling profitable investments in companies like Staples, Inc. (an office supply retailer) and the Gartner Group. But by the late 1980s, the firm changed its investment approach to focus on private equity through growth capital and leveraged buyouts.

During the 2000s buyout boom, Bain Capital was involved in several high-profile transactions, including that of Toys “R” Us (toy and baby products retailer), Dunkin’ Brands, and Hospital Corporation of America. The buyout of technology and financial services company SunGard by Bain and other PE firms was one of the largest in recent history.

During that time, Bain Capital (along with its partner PE firms) committed more than $25 billion combined on several large retail businesses across the US and in Africa.

7. TPG Capital

AUM: $212 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $14.2 billion

Notable Holdings: McAfee, Vice Media, Energy Future Holdings (club deal)

TPG Capital, formerly Texas Pacific Group, is a large investment firm that engages in private and public equity and credit (debt) markets. TPG manages multiple separate funds for strategic investments, including leveraged buyouts, distressed securities, venture capital, and sector-focused equity.

Some of the firm’s largest and most notable transactions include the buyout of Continental Airlines in 1993, Burger King in 2002, Neiman Marcus (with Warburg Pincus) in 2005, and Freescale Semiconductor in 2006.

In April 2008, during the height of the credit crisis, TPG invested more than $7 billion in Washington Mutual, a savings bank company.

Just a few months later, in September, Washington Mutual filed for bankruptcy after the US government announced the takeover of its largest subsidiary, WaMu bank, costing TPG a ton of money. This deal is often branded as one of the worst in the history of private equity.

In 2023, TPG acquired another investment firm, Angelo Gordon, for $2.7 billion. In the same year, TPG and Francisco Partners bought a web tracking and analytics firm, New Relic, for $6.5 billion. 

6. EQT Partners/ EQT AB Group

Total AUM: $228 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $18.7 billion (2020)

Notable Holdings: SUSE (open-source software company)

EQT Partners is one of the world’s largest investment organizations that invests mostly in northern and central Europe, North America, and China. The firm has two main business segments: Private Capital, which includes private equity venture funds, and Real Estate.

The EQT Private Equity makes investments in mid and large-cap companies through control and co-control investment strategies. For smaller companies, including family-owned businesses, it focuses on growth investing.

The investment group was established in 1994 by AEA Investors, a US-based private equity firm, and Investor AB, the largest investment holding company in Sweden controlled by the prominent Wallenberg family.

As of June 2021, EQT Partners had 26 active funds with investments in nearly a hundred companies in the US, Europe, and Asia. The total annual revenue of EQT portfolio companies is more than $34 billion.

In 2023, EQT Partners revealed its plan to buy Zeus Company for $3.4 billion. 

5. CVC Capital Partners

Private equity AUM: $204 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $21.3 billion (European Equity Partners) in 2020

CVC Capital Partners is perhaps the largest among top private equity firms based outside the United States, with over $204 billion in total assets under management and $200 billion in capital commitments since its inception.

The firm was initially established in 1981 as the venture capital arm of Citigroup in Europe. After almost a decade of investing in early-stage startups, the firm expanded into the private equity business, focusing on leveraged buyouts. CVC eventually broke out from the American banking group in 1993 to establish itself as an independent private equity firm.

CVC raises funds in two cycles: one for Europe (CVC European Equity Partners) and another for Asia (Capital Partners Asia Pacific). Additionally, funds for buyouts or growth investments in the U.S. are raised from time to time.

The first widely acknowledged investment by CVC Capital Partners in the early 2000s was in Formula One Group. The company was later acquired by US-based Liberty Media Corporation in 2016.

Between 2010 and 2015, CVC acquired majority stakes in companies like Wireless Logic (an M2M service provider), Sky Betting & Gaming, Tipco (betting operators), and Douglas AG (German cosmetics retailer).

In 2021, CVC purchased Unilever’s tea brands for $5.6 billion. Then, in 2023, it acquired the Japanese pharmacy operator Sogo Medical for $1.2 billion.

4. The Carlyle Group Inc.

AUM: $382 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $18.5 billion in 2018

Notable Holdings: Booz Allen Hamilton, Jagex Limited (developer studio of popular MMORPG RuneScape), Nielson Holdings.

The Carlyle Group is a Washington DC-based private equity firm known for its expertise in leveraged buyouts and a highly diverse portfolio of companies. According to the Private Equity International index, PEI 300, the Carlyle Group led the industry by total capital raised between 2010 and 2015.

Unlike most top private equity firms, Carlyle Group has a strong presence in the defense industry with stakes in companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the world’s largest defense consulting firms.

In the 1990s, the group made several high-profile defense acquisitions, the most famous of which was the United Defense Industries in 1997 for $850 million. The company was later taken public and was eventually acquired by UK’s BAE Systems. Other industries in which Carlyle Group has a vested interest are technology and business services, healthcare, media, and finance.

In 2005, a consortium of The Carlyle Group, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and the private equity division of Merrill Lynch acquired The Hertz Corporation (one of the largest car rental companies in the world) in a $15 billion leveraged buyout deal.

The next year, Carlyle Group (along with Blackstone Group and TPG Capital) completed an even larger transaction with the takeover of Freescale Semiconductor at $17.6 billion. It was the largest leveraged buyout in the tech industry at the time.

Apart from the traditional, corporate private equity platform, the firm also offers specialized investment solutions – through AlpInvest Partners, which utilize a wide range of strategies within the private equity asset class. AlpInvest has about $60 billion in assets under management and more than $74 billion in capital commitments since its inception.

AlpInvest functions as a private equity investment manager for some of the world’s largest pension funds and endowments.

Its main investment strategies include primary funds (or FOF), where institutions hold portfolios of other investment funds instead of directly investing in companies, and co-investments, where they acquire a minority stake in a company alongside a financial sponsor or other private equity investors.

In 2022, the Carlyle Group bought Dainese (an Italian motorcycle kit and clothing company), Abingworth (a transatlantic bioscience investment firm), and Incubeta (an international marketing agency).

Then, in 2023, it invested in Anthesis Group (a leading provider of sustainability services for businesses) and Seiko PMC (a manufacturer of paper and ink chemicals).

3. KKR & Co. Inc

KKR founding partner Henry Kravis at Economic World Forum in 2009 | Image Courtesy: WEF

AUM: $504 billion  
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $18.5 billion in 2021

Notable Holdings: WebMD Health Corp., Axel Springer, Coty, Inc., Coastal GasLink Pipeline project, Ultimate Fighting Championship (club deal).

KKR & Co. Inc. is one of the biggest names in the private equity industry, with a $650 billion total enterprise value of its completed PE deals (as of December 2020) and its portfolio companies generating $238 billion in annual revenue.

The firm is named after three of its founding partners, Jerome Kohlberg, Henry Kravis, and George R. Roberts, who initially completed a series of private equity investments in the 1960s and 70s on behalf of Bear Stearns, a defunct New York-based investment bank. The three broke out from Bear Stearns to establish their own firm in 1976.

In 1988, KKR successfully carried out the buyout of RJR Nabisco in an astronomical $31.1 billion deal. The deal remained the largest leveraged buyout on record until 2007, when it was surpassed by the buyout of TXU Energy by a consortium of KKR and TPG Capital.

KKR & Co. was the primary catalyst in the leveraged buyout boom of the 1980s, during which the firm made four multi-billion-dollar buyout deals (excluding RJR Nabisco).

KKR has made significant investments in energy and digital companies. In 2014, the firm bought a 30 percent stake in Acciona Energy, which operates renewable energy generating facilities (mostly wind farms) globally, for $567 million. In 2017, it acquired WebMD in a $2.8 billion deal.

In 2023, KKR acquired Simon & Schuster for $1.6 billion and Potter Global Technologies for an undisclosed amount from Gryphon Investors. It also bought a stake in a stake in PR firm FGS Global and Catalio Capital Management. 

2. Apollo Global Management, Inc.

AUM: $631 billion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $24.6 billion

Notable Holdings: Athene Holding Ltd, Diamond Resorts International, Rackspace Technology

Founded in 1990, Apollo manages a diverse range of investment funds across different asset classes, including private equity, credit, real estate, and infrastructure.

With an AUM of over $100 billion in private equities, Apollo manages a diverse portfolio across various sectors. It has been involved in transactions across technology, healthcare, consumer goods, energy, and more. 

The success of its flagship private equity funds is evident in the impressive 39% Gross Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and a solid 24% Net IRR since their inception. The expertise behind these achievements lies in the hands of 100+ investment professionals who manage a diverse portfolio across 190+ companies. 

In 2022, Apollo acquired Athene, a retirement services business, and the US asset management business of Griffin Capital. The same year, it purchased Tenneco for $7.1 billion. Apollo also added California-based grocer Cardenas, UK-based housebuilder Miller Homes, and Chicago-based grocer Tony’s Fresh Market to its portfolio.

In 2023, Apollo expanded its holdings with the acquisition of the American industrial company Arconic.

Apollo is a publicly traded company, and its shares are listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol APO.

1. The Blackstone Group

AUM: $1 trillion
Largest Fund Raised To Date: $26 billion in 2019

Notable Holdings: Ancestory.com LLC, Bumble Inc., Luminor Bank (the third largest bank in the Baltic region), and Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.

The Blackstone Group Inc. was founded as a strictly merger & acquisition advisory firm in 1985. But after just two years of advisory services, the firm entered the private equity business by raising $630 million in funds from institutions, such as the General Motors pension fund and Prudential Insurance Company.

Over the years, Blackstone Group expanded into other alternative asset classes, including real estate, insurance, and hedge fund solutions. However, corporate, private equity has remained its primary focus.

In 2002, Blackstone raised a record $6.45 billion for its fourth buyout fund, which helped the firm finalize the largest PE deal of that year (TRW Automotive buyout of $4.7 billion). Blackstone was also involved in a mega $11.3 billion buyout of financial services and technology company SunGard in 2005.

Other notable club deals (buyouts involving two or more PE firms) in which Blackstone has either led or participated are TDC (2005), Neilson Holdings (2006), and Hilton Worldwide (2007).

In 2023, Blackstone bought Cvent (a cloud-based event software provider) for $4.6 billion, Energy Exemplar (energy market analytics and simulation software firm) for $1.6 billion, Civica (a UK-based software company) for $2.5 billion, and a majority stake in Sony Payment Services from Sony Bank. 

Blackstone is currently the largest private equity firm in terms of assets under management and total capital commitments. The majority of its private equity transactions are leveraged buyouts. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Invests In Private Equity Funds?

Private equity funds allow various institutional investors, such as pension funds, endowments, foundations, and insurance companies, to diversify their investment portfolios.

According to a report, pension funds from around the world invested more than $300 billion in US-based PE funds in 2019. Apart from large institutional investors, private equity funds have become a preferred choice for high-net-worth individuals and family offices.

Where Are The Most Private Equity Firms?

Globally, there are about 7,000 to 8,400 active firms involved in private equity transactions. The United States leads with the highest number of private equity firms globally; ten out of the twelve largest firms on this list are based in the U.S. Following the U.S., notable presence is seen in Great Britain, China, and Canada.

How Do Private Equity Funds Generate Profits For Their Investors?

Private equity firms generate profits through various means. They can receive a consistent influx of cash from debt repayments or operational profits of the companies in their portfolio. Improving business operations and facilitating expansions contribute to this income.

Over time, private equity firms typically cash in their investments by selling portfolio companies for a profit or by making them public through initial public offerings (IPOs). The majority of these profits are then distributed to the investors or limited partners (LPs) of the private equity firms.

How Do Private Equity Firms Make Money?

Private equity firms make money through fees and carried interest. The first and foremost fee paid by investors is a management fee — 2% of their committed capital annually. This fee is levied by PE firms regardless of whether it generates a profit or not.

The second source of income is carried interest, also known as a performance fee. When a private equity firm earns profits from its portfolio companies, it receives a share of the profits, typically around 20%. Carried interest constitutes a significant portion of the earnings for private equity firms.

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Written by
Bipro Das

I am a content writer and researcher with over seven years of experience covering all gaming and anime topics. I also have a keen interest in the retail sector and often write about the business models/strategies of popular brands.

I started content writing after completing my graduation. After writing tech-related things and other long-form content for 2-3 years, I found my calling with games and anime. Now, I get to find new games and write features and previews.

When not writing for RankRed, I usually prefer reading investing books or immersing myself in Europa Universalis 4. But I am currently interested in some new JRPGs as well.

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