Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Boston Buyout Firms Top Behemoths on ‘Most Active’ List

By at least one metric, small and speedy wins the race.

The most active investors by deal count this year haven’t been the titans of the New York-centric private equity world that one might expect -- Blackstone Group LP, Apollo Global Management LLC or the like. Instead, that title goes to two much smaller Boston-based firms.

HarbourVest Partners and Audax Group have held the top two spots for the first three quarters of the year, according to a report Thursday by PitchBook. As is the case across the industry, many of these deals were add-ons, with HarbourVest and Audax looking for synergies to build out their portfolio companies.

HarbourVest, which oversees more than $40 billion of assets, racked up 16 deals in the third quarter. Audax, with about $11.5 billion under management, had 13.

Investing in the middle market, as HarbourVest and Audax have the flexibility to do, may account for part of their high activity levels. Small to midsize companies can be priced more favorably from a buyer’s perspective than the larger assets swallowed by bigger firms.

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