Private Equity

Investing in private equity across the globe requires experience, specialist knowledge and shrewd judgement – exactly the combination we offer our clients.

Risk warning

The value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and an investor may get back less than the amount invested. Past performance is not a guide to future results.


£13.0bn/€14.5bn/$16.9bn AUM and we hold over 400 advisory board seats. We offer a huge range of private equity solutions for our clients, having raised over 100 vehicles, backed over 500 private equity general partners (GPs) and having made over 1,000 fund commitments.

Source: abrdn, all data as at 31 December 2021.


We have over 40 private equity professionals globally, bringing invaluable on-the-ground insight and expertise.

We are also able to leverage huge resources from across abrdn, including industry-leading economic research, a global distribution network, dedicated legal, due diligence, finance, operations, risk and responsible investing teams. This means our clients have access to the best investment insights from across our whole business.

What we offer our clients

Primary Investments 

Primary investments are those made in private equity funds during their initial capital-raising. A portfolio of primary fund investments, also known as a fund-of-funds, gives investors access to the expertise of multiple fund managers and a variety of companies through a single investment. 

Secondary investments

Secondary investments involve the buying and selling of pre-existing investor commitments to private equity funds. We are well placed and active in the secondary market where our deep relationships, strong reputation and network of intermediaries give us a distinct advantage and allow us to offer our clients excellent access to this market.


Private equity co-investments, or direct investments, are investments made alongside another GP directly into companies. There are many benefits to co-investing, including the ability to gain exposure to what we believe are attractive investment opportunities whilst avoiding a layer of fees. Again, our strong, long-standing relationships with GPs, combined with our proven experience, mean we are leading players in this segment of the market.

Investment trust

The investment objective is to achieve long-term total returns through holding a diversified portfolio of private equity funds and direct investments into private companies alongside private equity managers (“co-investments”), a majority of which will have a European focus.

Our team

Alistair Watson

Head of Strategy Innovation – Private Equity, abrdn

Based in Edinburgh, Alistair is Head of Strategy Innovation at abrdn Private Equity Europe and joined the firm in 2008. Alistair is a member of abrdn Private Equity Europe’s Investment Committee, Senior Management Team and ESG Committee. He is responsible for sourcing, evaluating and executing private equity investments, principally direct co-investments and secondary investments. Alistair leads abrdn Private Equity Europe’s coverage of the French and European growth markets. Alistair is portfolio manager for several investment mandates and also serves on the Advisory Boards of a number of leading private equity funds.

Alistair has an MA (Hons) in Modern Languages from Oxford University and is a qualified solicitor.

Cameron Graham

Cameron Graham

Deputy Head of Secondaries – Private Equity

Cameron is based in the Edinburgh office and joined SL Capital Partners in 2008. SL Capital merged with the private markets team of Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017, when Aberdeen Standard Investments was formed. He has involvement in all aspects of primary fund investments, co-investments and has a particular focus on the secondary market. Cameron also has specific responsibility for the firm’s investment activities and relationships in the French market. He sits on the advisory boards of a number of European GPs. Before joining SL Capital, Cameron worked at Ernst & Young in their Financial Services Advisory practice.

Cameron has a BSc (Hons) degree in Management with French from the University of St Andrews.

Colin Burrow

Head of Co-Investments

Colin Burrow is Head of Co-Investments based in the Edinburgh office. He is responsible for all aspects of co-investing including sourcing, evaluating and execution. He is a member of the Investment Committee. Colin joined the company in 2014 from the Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) heritage team. Prior to joining SWIP in 2013, he led a dedicated co-investment team at Lloyds Banking Group responsible for origination and asset management. Colin joined Lloyds from Bridgepoint where as an Investment Director he spent six years investing in mid-market European buyouts. He began his career advising on mid-market buyouts with Andersen Corporate Finance. Colin holds an LLB (Hons) in Law from the University of Strathclyde and a Securities Institute Diploma.

John Dickie

Co-Head of Private Equity USA

John Dickie is Co-Head of Private Equity USA based in the Boston office. His primary responsibilities include sourcing, evaluating and executing primary investments and co-investments and he is a member of the Investment Committee. John joined the company in 2015 from the FLAG Capital Management heritage team where he held a role of Principal. Prior to joining FLAG in 2010, John was a Principal at Berkshire Partners. Previously, he worked at DLJ Merchant Banking Partners as a Senior Analyst-Private Equity. He began his career with Credit Suisse First Boston as a Financial Analyst in the Investment Banking division. John holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Middlebury College.

Karin Hyland

Senior Investment Director – Private Equity

Karin is a Senior Investment Director and member of abrdn’s Private Equity Operating Committee. She is responsible for sourcing, evaluating and executing co-investments and secondary transactions. Karin has been with abrdn since 2006. In this time, Karin has developed strong relationships with European private equity and private debt funds, with a particular focus on UK funds.

Karin holds a BA (Hons) in International Business and Modern Languages from the University of Strathclyde.

Kirsten Morin

Co-Head Global Venture Capital

Kirsten oversees the abrdn Venture Partners program alongside Peter Lawrence and has been focused on the abrdn Venture Partners program since joining the firm in 2005. She has been involved in all aspects of the investment process, and has been particularly involved in screening the emerging manager ecosystem for investment opportunities. Kirsten also plays a central role in manager due diligence and oversees junior team members in the investment and fund monitoring process. She has worked on the AVP funds for the last sixteen years and was a Principal at FLAG Capital Management prior to its acquisition by AAMI in 2015. Prior to joining FLAG in 2005, Kirsten worked for IBM in a variety of analytical roles. Kirsten holds a BS from Babson College. She has over 16 years of venture capital experience.

Mark Nicolson

Head of Primary Investments

Mark is based in Edinburgh and joined the company in 2007. He is responsible for making investments across the private equity spectrum (Primaries, Secondaries and Co-investments) as well as having overall responsibility for abrdn's Primary Investment business.

Mark is a member of abrdn's Private Equity Operating Committee and Investment Committee. He also sits on the Advisory Boards of a number of leading private equity funds. Prior to the merger that created abrdn in 2017, Mark was a Partner and Head of Primary Investments at SL Capital Partners where he joined in 2007. Before this, Mark spent seven years working as a lead adviser in the corporate finance teams of EY and KPMG, focusing principally on buyouts. Mark is a Chartered Accountant and has BA (Joint Honours) degrees in Accounting and Economics from the University of Strathclyde. Mark is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.

Merrick McKay

Head of Europe - Private Equity

Merrick joined the company in 2014 and is based in the Edinburgh and London offices. abrdn's European Private Equity business, with over €8bn AuM, encompasses primary and secondary fund investments and co-investment activities undertaken by a team of over 30 investment professionals. Merrick is Head of Europe and a member of the abrdn Private Equity Investment Committee.

An Australian, Merrick has over 25 years’ experience in the European private equity industry. Prior to joining abrdn, Merrick was Head of European Investments and Senior Partner of Macquarie’s Private Markets division. Previous roles include 13 years as a Partner and Investment Committee member of Primary Capital (the London-based, lower mid-market private equity firm) where he was responsible for leading, originating and managing numerous private equity investments in the UK. Merrick holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of Queensland.

Merrick is a regular speaker at private equity conferences, and is a member of Invest Europe’s Limited Partner Council.

Patrick Knechtli

Head of Secondaries

Based in Edinburgh, Patrick heads up the secondaries team of abrdn and is involved across the private markets activities of the firm. He joined predecessor firm SL Capital in 2009, which then merged with the company’s private markets business in 2017. Prior to joining, Patrick spent eight years at Coller Capital in London, where he worked on numerous secondary portfolio transactions. His early career consisted of seven years in investment banking, first at Baring Brothers and then at ABN Amro Corporate Finance. Patrick has a MA (Hons) in Modern Languages from the University of Exeter and is fluent in French and Spanish.

Peter Lawrence

Co-Head Global Venture Capital

Peter Lawrence oversees the abrdn Venture Partners program alongside Kirsten Morin and is a member of the strategy’s investment committee. As a co-founder of FLAG Capital Management, Peter has focused exclusively on venture capital fund investments and has been a member of the firm’s Private Equity investment committee since inception. Prior to co-founding FLAG in 1994, Peter spent twelve years managing both direct and indirect venture capital and private equity portfolios as Executive Vice President of the Marshall Field family office. He has over 30 years of experience in the private equity business. Peter holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Trinity College.

Scott Reed

Co-Head of Private Equity USA

Scott Reed is Co-Head of Private Equity USA based in the Boston office. He joined the company in 2015 from the FLAG Capital Management heritage team where he held a similar role as Partner and Head of the Private Equity strategy. Prior to joining FLAG in 2007, Scott was a Principal at Portico Capital LLC, and a Senior Associate at J.H. Whitney & Co. Previously, he worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. Scott holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College and a BA in Economics with Mathematics Concentration from Colby College and the London School of Economics.