On a sunny day in April 2008, a small office in the city of White Plains, about half an hour north of Manhattan, opened for business. EQT Partners Inc. had recruited a team of five investment advisory professionals to start monitoring investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector. That historic day marked the start of EQT’s expansion into the US.
Today, investment advisor EQT Partners has grown its US team to more than 50 professionals, with an office on the 45th floor of the Grace Building. With sweeping views overlooking Bryant Park and the Empire State Building, EQT lies in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and keeps a close ear to the ground regarding the North American markets. In 2014, EQT expanded its US platform and began evaluating buyout opportunities, and in 2017, debt investments. Since 2008, EQT’s funds have invested more than USD 7 billion in nearly 20 companies.
“I remember the first time I crossed paths with EQT. They felt different; they spoke fluent English but with a unique Scandinavian accent and they had a strikingly different approach to private equity from what I was used to. Both their informal culture and structured, yet entrepreneurial, approach attracted me right off the bat,” recalls Alex Darden, Partner, Head of Infrastructure US and President of EQT Partners Inc. Having been part of the team since 2008, Darden has witnessed EQT’s strong growth in the US.
EQT’s very first investment in the US was Midland Cogeneration Venture (MCV), one of the largest gas fired cogeneration projects in the US. It had all the right criteria: a stable business, a long-term contract and an important role in society.
“With MCV, EQT secured a strong team of US-based board members, who today are part of EQT’s Industrial Network, one of the firm’s most differentiating assets. EQT’s Industrial Advisors, who bring a host of competence and experience from a variety of industries and situations to the table, give portfolio companies across the investment platform access to the skills and strategic thinking they need to develop and grow,” explains Darden.
Growth has always been at the core of EQT’s strategic vision. EQT strives to acquire strong companies with the potential to develop, thoughtfully improve them and hand over stronger and future-proofed companies to the next owner.
“We want the portfolio companies to continue to prosper well after EQT has moved on as an owner. That’s why we always have a long-term perspective – we believe that is how EQT maintains a license to operate, by creating great companies that contribute to the communities in which they operate,” says Morten Hummelmose, Partner and Chairman of EQT Partners Inc. Hummelmose has been with EQT since 2006 and assumed the role of Chairman in New York in 2017, having previously led EQT’s Denmark office.
The best way to explain EQT’s ownership approach is to share some examples of companies it has invested in and grown. WASH, a leading North American route-based infrastructure services company that provides laundry services to multi-family apartments and universities, has grown both sales and employee count, as well as embarked on a digitalization journey replacing the machines’ coin-based payment method with a digital software solution. Under EQT’s ownership for less than a year, Certara, a global leader in model-informed drug development and regulatory science, has successfully executed two add-on acquisitions to expand its portfolio.
It is humbling to reflect on EQT’s journey so far in the US, pioneering a new geography for the firm. While EQT’s presence has grown significantly, each move to launch a new strategy or to enter a new sector has been carefully and gradually executed. It is with that great thought and care that EQT has built its position in the US over the last ten years. Many exciting transactions and firm developments are on the horizon, and EQT will continue to be the firm to watch over the next decade.