Market at a glance: Big LBO deals rule the day, Welsh Carson leads fund-raisers

After finding it difficult to close LBO transactions during the second quarter, private equity firms have had success completing large deals during the past week.

The firms may find more opportunities ahead as General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is exploring strategic alternatives for its entire consumer and industrial business division.

Thomson Reuters (publisher of PE Week), has tracked 16 control-stake LBO deals in the past week. The six LBO transactions with disclosed prices had an aggregate value of about $3.7 billion. A big chunk of this total was from two transactions over $1 billion. Year-to-date deal volume increased to $63.2 billion.

Lone Star Funds’ acquisition of CIT Group Inc.’s home lending business for $1.5 billion was the largest transaction of the past week. It was followed by Oak Hill Capital Partners’ purchase of eight FOX network-affiliated television stations from News Corp. for about $1.1 billion.

Fund-raising tops $153B

The latest activities pushed the capital commitments that buyout and mezzanine firms received so far this year to $153.3 billion.

Fund-raising was steady this past week as Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe held a first close of $2.5 billion for Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe XI, which has a $4 billion target. The New York-based firm invested about $400 million into the fund. Welsh Carson raised $3.5 billion for fund X, which closed in 2005.

In addition, other firms are planning to hold interim closings shortly. Milestone Partners Management Co. plans a third close for Milestone Partners III, which currently has $143 million in commitments.

Meanwhile, Riverlake Partners expects a second close for Riverlake Equity Partners Fund II that would increase the fund’s total commitments to nearly $100 million from $62 million. The fund-raising will rise later this month. The Blackstone Group has scheduled a first close on its sixth fund for July 25, according to published reports. The firm expects between $6 billion and $7 billion in commitments.