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U.S. Buyout Investment Values Reach Highs Not Seen Since 2007

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns did little to stop the private equity juggernaut in 2020: Buyout investment activity in United States in 2020 totalled $262.4bn last year, a 23% increase from 2019, and the greatest annual total on record since 2007, according to new data from Refinitiv.

Add-on deals and acquisitions by portfolio companies have continued to grow as the dominant deal type, climbing to a new high of 63% of all deals, the seventh consecutive year of deal volume growth. While leveraged buyouts and minority-stake acquisitions represented 14% and 16% of all deals respectively in 2020, both held 20% of market activity as recently as 2017.

Top investors in U.S. companies last year included Warburg Pincus, Hellman & Friedman, Genstar Capital, and Carlyle Group, each with 45 or more transactions during the year. The largest deals of the year included United Shore Financial Services, Zayo Group, Tallgrass Energy Partners, and Mavericks, each of which saw deal values over $10bn each.

United States-based private equity buyout funds saw a slightly weaker 2020, with 4% fewer funds raising 9% less capital from the year prior. The year saw five funds raise over $10 billion apiece, including funds from Silver Lake Partners; Thoma Bravo; KKR; Oaktree; and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

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