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European buyout industry exceeds €100bn for sixth consecutive year in face of challenging market conditions

Wednesday, 21 December 2022
  • Private equity dealmaking proves resilient in Europe in 2022, with €100bn aggregate value ‘floor’ exceeded for sixth year running
  • Total buyout value over the past decade passes €1 trillion for the first time, underlining how embedded PE capital has become in European economies
  • Private equity firms’ greater appetite to invest compared to public markets and corporate acquirers highlighted by slowdown in exit activity
  • The UK remains Europe’s largest and busiest market, while France exhibits greatest impact of shift in investment strategies

Europe’s buyout industry continued to show appetite to deploy capital through the economic cycle, despite exceptionally challenging market conditions, according to provisional full-year data from CMBOR, the Centre for Private Equity and MBO Research based at Nottingham University Business School and supported by Equistone Partners Europe.

The 707 buyouts completed in 2022 were worth a cumulative €117.5bn, a sharp fall from the 827 deals worth €153bn completed last year, when the industry’s rebound from pandemic disruption drove record post-crisis levels of activity. However, despite the war in Europe, soaring inflation and debt markets tightening, the total value for 2022 was higher than both 2019 and 2020 – boosted by the long-term upward trend in average buyout size (€166.2m, the fourth highest total on record). The €100bn mark has therefore emerged as the industry’s new ‘floor’ for aggregate buyout value after the threshold was crossed for the sixth consecutive year. That historic run has also helped carry the total value of European buyouts in the preceding decade past €1 trillion for the first time.

“The ongoing resilience of the European buyout market – first in the face of Covid, and now against a backdrop of both war and profound economic headwinds – has been striking. It serves as a timely reminder of the industry’s well-established role in the economic landscape,” said Christiian Marriott, Head of Investor Relations at Equistone. “It’s worth noting that this year’s activity means that -PE firms have invested over a trillion euros in MBOs over the past decade, another milestone on private equity’s long-term development into a mainstream asset class.”

Tellingly, exit activity has not remained as robust, as buyers involved in exits have pulled back. Outside of 2020, this year saw the lowest volume since 2009 and third-lowest annual value since 2013 (367 exits worth €94.6bn). The relative uptick in secondary buyouts as an exit route (194 valued at €54.4bn - the highest proportion of volume this millennium, at 54.0%, and second-highest share by value, at 57.6%), compared to the declines seen for both trade sales (163 valued at €40.1bn) and floatations (just one, down from 29 in 2021), points to private equity buyers’ greater appetite to deploy capital in periods of dislocation. This sustained pace of acquisitions, combined with subdued exit activity, is likely to lead to a ‘pig in the python’ effect, whereby firms will need to staff up in order to digest swelling portfolios.

Europe diverges

The UK market was once again the busiest by volume and largest by value, with 189 buyouts totalling €41.5bn (£35.2bn). France ranks second in terms of volume, with deals having risen to 127 from 112 year on year, despite a broader Europe-wide slowdown. These activity levels are, however, being driven by smaller buyouts, with larger deals having declined significantly and cumulative deal value falling to its lowest aggregate value in over a decade (€7.9bn in 2022 compared to €22.3bn in 2021).

Meanwhile, the Netherlands experienced the inverse of France, representing the second largest market by value, totalling €23.6bn, from 47 deals, the country’s lowest total since 2013. The Dutch market’s share of value can be attributed to the outsized impact of KKR’s €7bn investment in Refresco, 3G Capital’s €6.3bn buyout of Hunter Douglas and Apax Partners and Warbug Pincus’ €5.1bn acquisition of T-Mobile Netherlands, which represented three of the year’s four largest buyouts. Germany saw 98 deals, down from 132 in 2021, valued at €10.6bn.

“It’s been interesting to see the marked contrast between geographies,” adds Marriott. “While Germany and particularly the Netherlands have skewed towards upper-mid-market and larger-cap deals, France runs counter to this, with deal volumes up but total valuations down demonstrating relatively stronger activity in the small cap and lower mid market. Anecdotally, we’ve witnessed how, in the French market, minority deals have eclipsed buyout activity for larger-cap companies.”

TMT remains number one target

Despite the well-publicised rout in tech valuations, Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) continued to attract sizeable investment and was highest in terms of volume (177 deals) and value (€29.2bn) among all sectors for the very first time. Amid the inflationary environment, food and drink performed well by aggregate value (€14.3bn from 27 transactions), while business & support services performed well volume-wise (105 deals, the most since 2018).

Despite the well-publicised rout in tech valuations, TMT continued to attract sizeable investment and was highest in terms of volume (177 deals) and value (€29.2bn) among all sectors for the very first time. Amid the inflationary environment, food and drink performed well by aggregate value (€14.3bn from 27 transactions), while business & support services performed well volume-wise (105 deals, the most since 2018).

Professor Kevin Amess, of Nottingham University Business School, said: “Notwithstanding the turbulent economic conditions, a number of sectors have witnessed strong buyout activity.” 

TMT continues to receive significant investment, a trend demonstrative of how deeply private equity has committed to covering and investing in the sector, while the strong performance of business & support services potentially indicates the beginning of a pivot away from more consumer-exposed companies.
Professor Kevin Amess, Director of CMBOR at Nottingham University Business School

Story credits

For further information or to speak to Equistone, please contact:

Steve Atkinson / James Davey / Dan Thomas, Hawthorn Advisors


Tel: 07872003601



The Centre for Private Equity and MBO Research (CMBOR) is based at Nottingham University Business School and co-funded by Equistone Partners Europe. Founded in 1986 by the late Professor Mike Wright at Nottingham University Business School, CMBOR was the first centre of its kind devoted to the objective study of private equity activity and management buyouts.

The CMBOR database is the gold-standard for European private equity investments and management buyouts, collecting and aggregating quantitative data: value, volume, region, industry, structure, and exit. The database has been used to produce quarterly reports for industry and international media for more than 30 years. The Centre’s objective market intelligence of private equity activity and analyses of trends, presented in charts and graphs, provides essential insight.

CMBOR has provided independent analysis and advice to enhance government, industry and the wider public’s understanding of the private equity industry and inform the development of policies and practice in the UK, Europe, and US.


The data compiled by CMBOR summarises trends in buyouts across Europe (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Turkey and the UK). Data cut-off date: the data in this press release is for deals completed by 12 December 2022.

CMBOR defines buyouts as over 50% of shares changing ownership with management or private equity, or both having a controlling stake upon deal completion. Equity funding must primarily be from private equity funds and the bought-out company must have its own financing structure, e.g., MBO/MBI.

About Equistone Partners Europe Limited

Equistone is an independent investment firm wholly-owned and managed by its executives. The company is one of Europe’s leading investors in mid-market buyouts with a strong, consistent track record spanning over 40 years, with more than 400 transactions completed in this period. Equistone has a strong focus on change of ownership deals and aims to invest between €25m and €200m+ of equity in businesses with enterprise values of between €50m and €500m. The company has a team of over 40 investment professionals operating across France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK, investing as a strategic partner alongside management teams. Equistone is currently investing its sixth buyout fund, which held a final closing at its €2.8bn hard cap in March 2018.

Equistone is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Further information can be found at

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Notes to editors:

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