European LBO activity still ahead of 2006

The summer’s credit market turbulence has proven to be more than a little challenging for private equity players, so it is encouraging to see that preliminary third-quarter figures published by Thomson Financial show that European private equity-backed activity for the year to-date is still up 2.6% on the first three quarters of last year.

The figures to September 20 show that there has been €122bn of announced financial sponsor-backed offers for European companies since the start of January.

Given the problems over the summer, the figures for the third quarter were not quite as encouraging. They show that third-quarter financial sponsor activity was down to €14.9bn, a 76% drop on that of the second quarter and 66% down on the same quarter last year.

With the drop in third-quarter buyout activity, it may not be surprising to note that European M&A involving strategic buyers accounted for 90% of activity during the third quarter and totalled €205bn. Although this was 45% higher than that of the third quarter 2006, the figure was significantly down from the €451bn witnessed in the second quarter of this year.

For the year to-date, strategic acquisitions of European companies have reached €826bn, an 83% improvement over the same period of last year.

Deborah Cust