Feeding frenzy: 2004 deal volume nears $300bn

Private equity groups around the globe backed transactions worth almost $300bn in 2004, a 60 percent increase on 2003, according to new research.

Ahead of a huge fundraising push expected in 2005 and 2006, private equity houses have been working hard this year to deploy the remaining capital in their current funds. In 2004, buyout investors completed deals worth almost $300 billion (€224 billion), according to a report from global research firm Dealogic.

The $294 billion of announced deals this year is 60 percent higher than the previous all-time high recorded in 2003 when $185 billion worth of deals were announced. In 2002, the figure was $133 billion.

The US generated transactions worth $126 billion in 2004, whilst the UK market produced $57 billion. The third largest market was Germany, where deals rose by 31 percent to $27 billion.

In terms of sector-focused activity, healthcare was the busiest industry in the US this year, with $19 billion of deals announced. The global satellite sector also attracted considerable private equity interest, including the largest buyout of the year – the $5 billion purchase of satellite communications company Intelsat in August by a consortium of firms comprising Apax Partners, Apollo, Madison Dearborn and Permira.

In Europe, a consortium comprising Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Eurazeo and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity recently signed an exclusive agreement to purchase listed French electrical distributor Rexel for €3.7bn, the largest deal in the region

The largest buyout in Asia in 2004 was the purchase in June of Japanese wireless data group DDI Pocket by The Carlyle Group for $2 billion.