Unquote: European Buyouts at Lowest Level in Five Years

LONDON, Jan 12 (Reuters) – European buy-out value fell to its lowest level for five years in 2008 weighed down by restrictions in credit markets and the deteriorating economic climate, research firm and publisher Unquote said on Monday.

In a statement released ahead of the publication of the 19th edition of the European Buyout Review, Unquote said total buy-out value across Europe fell back to 73 billion euros ($97.76 billion) from 185 billion euros in 2007.

The study, conducted in association with private equity firm Bridgepoint, found that large buy-outs suffered most from tightening credit conditions, with the proportion of the market represented by 1-billion-euro-plus deals falling to 29 percent of the market from 50 percent.

The value of mid-market deals in the 250 million to 1 billion euro range halved in 2008 and accounted for 36 percent of all buy-out activity.

“While the mid-market has not emerged from unscathed, it has remained relatively robust,” said Bridgepoint partner Guy Weldon in a statement.

“As company valuations fall and the new reality sets in, the second half of 2009 holds out the prospect of good investment opportunities as investors and vendors alike adjust to the new environment,” he added.

While the financial services, media and consumer sectors all registered heavy declines in 2008, with deal value down 84 percent, 83 percent and 74 percent respectively, the industrials sector remained most robust. Industrials deals decreased 35 percent in value and represented 45 percent of total value. ($1=.7467 Euro) (Reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)