The Q3 2012 unquote” Private Equity Barometer revealed DACH leads Europe’s buyout tables by value for the three months to the end of September, with Germany leading the pack.
"There is a very strong economy in Germany: exports are very strong, car manufacturing is extremely strong. It makes it interesting to invest in Germany, and there is still a great pipeline," Christian Schatz, partner at SJ Berwin, said in a video interview with unquote" in Munich recently.
But the gong comes with caveats, namely the fact that activity levels across Europe are subdued, with most countries expected to end 2012 below 2011 levels. In fact, Germany, DACH's powerhouse, clocked up just 26 buyouts between January and September, compared to 76 in 2011 and 55 in 2010 (full-year figures, according to Barometer data, published in association with Arle Capital Partners). And despite the first mega-deal (EV >€1bn) in 18 months making headlines this summer, values stood at just €4.25bn for the first nine months of this year, against nearly €7bn for full-year 2011. One deal (EQT's acquisition of BSN Medical) accounted for a third of total value. This current rate of investment activity suggests German buyout volumes could fall below the 2009 trough.
Across the entire DACH region, the first four months of this year saw buyout activity bottom out, with a rebound commencing in May and continuing through July, when levels hit their 2012 peak.
The region remains stalwart. Said Schatz: "The euro crisis will have an impact on the budget of Germany, but overall we're pretty confident we can solve this over time."
Deals aside, the region has also seen a respectable number of funds announce closes this year – and in the first eight months of the year, actually led Europe in terms of number of vehicles closing. Examples include Wellington Partners reaching €70m for a first close of its Fund IV and DBAG reaching its €700m hard-cap for its latest vehicle.
"The level of confidence in Germany is higher and we believe that's underpinning the level of activity we've seen in our client base," said James Duffield of Aztec Group in an interview.
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