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European buyouts fall to lowest level in 13 years

The total value of European private equity-backed deals in the first quarter of 2009 reached just €4bn – the lowest quarterly level since 1995.

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The total value of European private equity-backed deals in the first quarter of 2009 reached just €4bn – the lowest quarterly level since 1995.

In total, 219 transactions were completed according to the latest Candover Private Equity Barometer, with the €4bn total representing a fall of 86 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2008, and more than 50 per cent down on the final quarter of the year.

The number of deals is also well down – with close to twice that number completed in the first quarter of 2008.

No deals of more than €1bn went through during the period, reflecting the lack of activity at the large end of the market, with the biggest deal during the quarter being BCC Private Equity's €454m acquisition of a minority stake in Italian thermometry specialist Euromisure.

In the UK there were just 14 buyouts totalling €252m, down 25 per cent in value terms compared with the final quarter of 2008.

“Buyout activity across Europe has slumped to its lowest in over a decade,” said Marek Gumienny, managing director of Candover. “Given the current economic environment, most buyout companies are focusing all their efforts on their current portfolio and ensuring their businesses are equipped to deal with the ongoing deterioration in the global economy.”