With the end of the first quarter of 2015 in sight, it can be useful to assess the current private equity buyout deal and exit environment so far to see how it compares with recent years. At the time of writing, Preqin’s Buyout Deals Analyst online service shows that there have been 655 deals and 300 exits made in 2015. Compared with the first quarter’s deal and exit activity since 2006, 2015 has got off to a slow start. The number of deals has dropped universally across all regions, though the fall in Asia and other regions outside Europe and North America has been particularly stark. However, given that there are two weeks left in the quarter, deal flow could still pick up.
The current positioning of aggregate deal value appears to buck the recent trend of gradual growth. By comparing figures reached in Q1 2013 (January to 17th of March) through to 2015, we can see a notable decrease in aggregate buyout deal value. As of 17th March 2015, the aggregate value of private equity-backed buyouts was $47bn, whereas the values attained in the corresponding periods in 2013 and 2014 were $82bn and $70bn respectively. However, it should be noted that three of the largest deals in 2015 so far have all occurred in March; the announced acquisition of General Electric’s Australian Consumer Finance Unit by KKR, Värde Partners and Deutsche Bank for AUD 8.2bn being the largest.
In contrast, the exit environment continues to perform well. Though the aggregate exit value in Q1 2015 TD is currently lower than that of Q1 2014, the figure of $85bn already exceeds all other Q1 results since 2006. A significant contributor to this value has been the announced $16.7bn merger between private equity-backed Freescale Semiconductor and NXP Semiconductors. In terms of the number of exits that have occurred, there has been a slight increase on the same period last year (January to 17th of March), with 293 exits in 2014 and 300 so far this year.