Private equity shows growth in February

February M&A figures compiled by Thomson Financial show a double-digit decline in global activity during the month compared with February last year. The global figures show that 2,604 deals were newly announced during the month, valued at US$234.9bn (€159bn).

European companies were the targets in 659 of those offers, generating an overall value of US$98.9bn (€66.6bn), double that of the January announcements, which made sorry reading at US$41.8bn (€28.4bn). Despite a significantly higher overall deal tally, the value of deals in February 2007 was not significantly higher than was just witnessed a year later, with the 1,048 transactions producing a total value of US$103.5bn (€78.5bn).

There was a glimmer of hope for global private equity-backed activity in February, which saw a slight rebound from the all-time lows of January this year. The volume of worldwide financial sponsor-backed transactions rose by 24.3% in February with strategic acquisitions climbing 4.7%.

The lack of new buyout announcements during the second half of last year had a significant impact on the completed deal figures. The volume of completed buyouts globally reached only US$828m (€535m) in February, up from just US$410m (€265m) in January. June 1998 was the last time that the completed buyout figures failed to reach the US$1bn mark, managing just US$789m (€510m).

There were 41 buyouts of European firms during February, with financial sponsors paying US$4.0bn (€2.6bn) compared with 53 bids valued at US$1.7bn (€1.1bn) in January. As of March 10, private equity-backed offers for the current month had reached a total value of US$2.9bn (€1.9bn) from 13 deals.

It was the European industrials sector that saw the highest volume of buyouts in February, with 10 companies sold to private equity players for a total value of US$603m (€409m). With four deals during the month, it was the retail sector that saw the highest value of transactions, registering US$1.8bn (€1.2bn) worth of deals.

For the year to March 10, retail still leads the way in terms of the value of transactions, although the value remains unchanged despite the total number of deals rising to six. Industrials also retains its place as the most highly targeted sector in relation to deal volume, with a doubling in the number of transactions for the year so far to 20 for a total value of US$666m (€452m). The overall total of European buyouts announced between January 1 and March 10 stands at 107, registering a total value of US$8.6bn (€5.8bn).