European buyouts up 169pc

THE VALUE of private equity backed buyouts in Europe rocketed 169 per cent to €63.1bn (£54.3bn) last year.

The number of deals last year also saw a 43 per cent increase on the previous year to 367 deals, according to research commissioned by private equity house Candover.

Overall, European private equity increased by a whopping 143 per cent on 2009 to 1,029 deals worth €71.5bn.

The purchase of a 42.5 per cent stake in global chemical distribution company Univar by private equity group Clayton Dubilier & Rice for over €3bn was among several big deals last year that helped boost the figure.

However, the report by research provider unquote.com found that the value and number of private equity deals slipped across Europe during the final three months of last year, hit by macroeconomic concerns.

Private equity managers usually look to tie up deals before the end of the year, normally giving the final quarter a boost.

However, the report said caution had come to “reign supreme again” fuelled by fears over the Eurozone crisis and government austerity packages.

Yet the UK still managed to maintain its position as the most active private equity market in Europe in volume terms, with 23 deals completed during the last three months of last year. The Benelux region was the largest with transactions amounting to €5.2bn.

Managing partner of Candover John Arney said: “As we move into 2011 we are likely to see an element of caution prevail until the economic situation becomes clearer. At that time, all the signs indicate that recovery in the European private equity sector will continue to accelerate.”