Exit volume plunges as market awaits first PE-backed IPO – Quarterly Exits

Amid turmoil in the broader economy, private equity had a tough time exiting investments in the first quarter.

As the accompanying chart shows, this quarter’s total exit volume marks an 11-quarter low, while the exit deal count fell to the lowest point since Q1 2013. There is still time for improvement, though, as these figures are inclusive only up to March 23.

The exit situation was not helped by a total lack of any PE-backed initial public offerings so far in Q1. GPs likely held off bringing companies to the public markets amid volatility that has roiled the markets since January.

U.S. buyout shops sold 107 companies, down 30 percent from 153 in the fourth quarter and 27 percent from 147 in the first quarter of 2015.

The $14.6 billion of exit volume is less than half last quarter’s $30.9 billion in the fourth quarter and $36.9 billion at this time a year ago.

Of the first quarter’s 107 exits, 31 had disclosed values. Out of that group, five vaulted into the billion-dollar category.

The headlining deal was Advent International exiting its holdings in Priority Group Ltd. The London-based provider of home-health-care services was acquired by Acadia Healthcare Co for $2.2 billion.

The biggest exit of Q4 2015 was Intercontinental Exchange Inc buying Interactive Data Corp from Silver Lake Management for nearly $5.3 billion.

The second-largest transaction by dollar weight in Q1 was Landmark Aviation. BBA Aviation PLC took over the supplier of business aviation services from The Carlyle Group for about $2.1 billion. In third place was EnLink Midstream Partners LP and Devon Energy Corp acquiring Tomp LLC and Tom-Stack LLC, a pair of oil and gas exploration companies, from EnCap Investments for nearly $1.6 billion.

Health care led the field in number of exits. The sector accounted for 16 of the 107 deals, or 15 percent of the total count. Consumer Products and Services trailed close behind in second place, with 14 deals (13.1 percent). The Industrials sector was in third place with 13 deals (12.1 percent).

PE-backed IPO numbers hit absolute zero in the first quarter. After two muted periods in a row, the market is still waiting for 2016’s first PE-backed public offering.

As the accompanying “PE-Backed IPO Exits by Quarter” graph shows, IPOs have a history of sharp fluctuation. Since Buyouts started tracking the numbers, however, there has never been a blank quarter.

Download all the Q1 2016 exit data and charts here: Q1 2016 Exits Data