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Alternative Market Briefing

Other Voices: Global private equity delivers groundbreaking 2021

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Authored by Oliver Brahmst, Caroline Sherrell, and Daniel Yeh, from global law firm White & Case.

In line with overall M&A trends, global private equity had a blockbuster 2021 by any metric, but perhaps the best is this: In a record-setting year for global M&A, a record was also set for the percentage of M&A deals that were PE deals. PE buyouts comprised 27% of global M&A activity in 2021, the highest percentage on Mergermarket record (since 2006), nearly four times 2009's low of 7% and a 35% leap from 2020's 20%.

With a total of 8,548 deals worth US$2.1 trillion announced, global PE activity in 2021 nearly doubled the previous record set in 2007 (US$1.1 trillion), and more than doubled 2020's US$1 trillion. Deal volume posted an impressive 60% increase year-on-year.

Buyouts enter a golden era

Buyout deal activity was the driving force behind this strong performance. PE houses continue to spend at an unprecedented rate as they look to invest cash accumulated during the pandemic. As a result, buyout deal value (including both primary and secondary buyouts) finished the year on an all-time high of US$1.5 trillion-1.8 times 2007's pre-crisis record.

Reflecting the dominance of this deal type, all but one of the top ten PE transactions of the year were buyouts (both primary and secondary)-the highest being US buyout group KKR's proposed takeover of Telecom Italia (TIM), valued at US$40 billion.

The year was exceptionally activ......................

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