Italian buyouts soar despite 2H 2008 slowdown

Despite a tail-off in the second half, the total value of deals in the world’s seventh-largest economy almost doubled to $12bn in 2008 compared with the previous year.

The value of private equity deals in the Italian market reached $11.7 billion last year, up from $6.7 billion in 2007, according to data provider Dealogic. The figure represents the largest annual total recorded in the country over the last five years, surpassing the $9.8 billion total in 2006.

The largest individual transaction during the last 12 months was the $1.7 billion acquisition of a 10 percent stake in telecommunications company Weather Investments by Apax Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners and TA Associates in May.

Other large deals completed in the first half included the acquisition of a 14 percent stake in Sintonia, the Benetton family’s infrastructure investment holding company, for $1.5 billion in March; and the $1.4 billion buyout of toy maker Giochi Preziosi by a consortium led by Milan-based private equity firm Clessidra in the same month.

While the first half of 2008 saw deals worth $8.5 billion, the total in the second six months dropped to $3.2 billion as the financial crisis deepened and debt dried up further.

One deal that bucked the trend was the $888 million buyout of vending machine business N&W Global Vending in August by Barclays Private Equity and Investcorp. In late December, Bain Capital and Clessidra agreed the $688 million purchase of Cerved, a business information group.