U.K. private equity investment rose in ’07

Investments by members of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) rose by more than a third in 2007, according to a report released last week by the trade group and PricewaterhouseCoopers

Total investment by member firms rose 37% to more than $59 billion last year..

Activity was split equally between the first and second half of the year, despite a global credit crunch that began in the fall.

Investment in the United Kingdom in 2007 reached $24 billion last year, compared with $28 billion throughout continental Europe.

“The latest figures demonstrate that the U.K. is increasingly the gateway to the whole of Europe and the most important centre for the private equity industry outside the U.S.,” BVCA CEO Simon Walker says.

The BVCA is under pressure to prove that private equity has a vital role to play in Britain’s economy after a number of high-profile deals in 2007, including the buyout of high-street chemist Alliance Boots, drew fire from trade unions and politicians.

Critics complained that the industry enjoyed unfair tax breaks and was not transparent enough about the way it operated. —Thomson Reuters