Private equity: The inside story of Equis and its partners’ $800 million bounty
When renewables private equity group Equis Energy was sold to GIP for $5 billion – $3.7 billion of it equity – investors walked away with well over double their initial investment. The founders of Equis made around $800 million. But why was more than $500 million of the proceeds ringfenced into a vehicle called Equis Renewables, in which the underlying investors did not participate, while the general partners got it all? The story of how those assets got there casts a light on the curious inner workings of modern private equity.
When the money cleared, the partners of Equis went shopping to celebrate. Founder and leader David Russell got a yellow Lamborghini; his brother Tim, a personalized orange Porsche. Craig Marsh settled upon a black McLaren with carbon-fibre trims.
They had reason to celebrate. The clearance of funds that day in January 2018 marked the conclusion of the biggest renewable energy sale ever completed.