Editor's letter

Private equity and venture capital have come a long way in a short time. The former is a major force in international M&A; the latter plays a key role in global innovation: graphic evidence of how far both industries has come ever since VCs emerged in the 1950s and bootstrapping mavericks invented the buyout market 20 years later. And some of these same people – let alone their firms – are still making waves today.

Because buyout and venture sit at the nexus of corporate change (be it divestment, restructuring, PTP or start up), the transactions they undertake are in the vanguard of international corporate finance. These deals matter: sometimes because of their financial structure, at others on account of the assets involved; or because the deal's dynamics take on spectacular proportions.

The past three decades have produced a string of groundbreaking and often high profile investments that have done much to turn private equity into a large and thriving industry, both as an asset class and a financing tool.

That's why we produced this month's cover story. Following on from our 50 most influential people in European private equity survey in 2002 and The 30 most influential LPs in 2003, we wanted to know which were the deals, good or bad, that really made this business what it is.

To find out, David Snow, Andy Thomson, Colm Gilmore and myself went off and rummaged in our archives. We also spoke to the market and to many people who helped the industry grow up. Coming up with a final selection was excruciating, but in the end we came up with our very own take on the deals that made the difference – The 30 most influential private equity deals.

We dubbed our list: The beautiful and the damned, because starting on p.49, you'll find 30 short stories of thrilling victories and agonising defeats. Writing about them was a lot of fun. We hope that reading about them will be, too.

Enjoy,

Philip Borel

Managing editor