European private equity hits record high after bumper buyout quarter

A record final quarter for buyouts, including thirteen deals valued at over one billion euros, saw the total value of European private equity deals increase to €178bn in 2006.

A record fourth quarter for buyouts helped push European private equity deals to a new high in 2006, according to a report.

Figures from the Unquote Barometer, sponsored by buyout firm Candover, show that the total value of deals in 2006 was €178 billion, a 41 percent increase on the previous record of €126 billion, set in 2005.

Almost a third of this came from buyouts in the last quarter of the year, with €54.5 billion of deals agreed during the period. This was a third more than in the previous quarter, and an 86 percent increase on the same period in 2005.

The largest deal of the quarter was the €8.3 billion acquisition of Philips Semiconductors by a Kohlberg Kravis Roberts-led consortium. However, there were 12 other deals agreed with a value of over €1 billion, including Pages Jaunes, a French directories business bought by KKR and Goldman Sachs for €3.3 billion; bedmaker Hilding Anders, acquired by Candover for about €1 billion, and Permira’s €1.7 billion deal for Bird’s Eye, a frozen food maker.

For the year as a whole, the total value of European buyouts was €168 billion, a 42 percent increase on 2005.

Candover managing director Colin Buffin said there was no sign of a slow-down so far in 2007. “We are seeing a strong deal pipeline across Europe which gives us confidence that the private equity market will continue to thrive in 2007.”

His firm has already sealed its first large buyout of the year, teaming up with trade player Bourne Leisure to pay €900 million for Parque Reunidos, a Spanish theme park operator.