EQT moves into Italy and plans additional hires

The European private equity giant will look at real estate and infrastructure opportunities in addition to buyout deals in the country.

EQT has opened an office in Milan – its 10th in Europe – as it seeks mid-to large-cap buyout transactions in the country.

Federico Quitadamo, managing director and head of EQT Italy, will lead the Milan office.

The firm is focused on tapping opportunities where it sees macro and thematic trends, with Italy being “very much a consumer and industrial market”, Quitadamo told Private Equity International. He added the Milan office has a team of three investment professionals focused on private equity and will add two more from other business lines in the next six to 12 months.

EQT will also explore real estate and infrastructure opportunities in the country, along with new investments in its core sectors TMT, healthcare and industrial technology.

Stockholm-headquartered EQT made its first investment in Italy in 2016 with the acquisition of Lima, a manufacturer of 3D printed orthopaedic implants. The firm also bought Facile.it, a price comparison platform in June last year.

EQT is deploying the 2017-vintage, €10.75 billion EQT VIII, its latest flagship vehicle which targets control equity stakes mainly in Northern European companies. The firm is also investing its 2016-vintage, €1.6 billion Mid Market Europe Fund, which targets companies with enterprise values of between €100 million and €300 million.

Italy has been a favoured market in Europe in recent years. France’s Apax Partners SAS set up its Milan outpost in April 2018 as part of its European expansion plans. Turnaround manager Springwater Capital opened an office in Milan in February to ramp up deal-making in Italy’s tourism and TMT sectors. London-based mid-market firm Three Hills Capital Partners is opening its base in the city in September, according to a spokeswoman for the firm. Hayfin Capital Management is also understood to be establishing an office in Milan this year.

Total private equity deal value in Italy almost doubled to €9.8 billion last year, with international players accounting for 66 percent of deal activity, according to data from the Italian Private Equity, Venture Capital and Private Debt Association.