As uncertainty about Brexit and worries over a trade war between the US and China persist, it's a tricky time for private equity dealmakers across the globe. But that hasn't kept investors from pressing on.

After all, there's a massive amount of dry powder currently in the private equity ecosystem. And much of that money needs to be spent wisely within an agreed-upon timeframe to appease LPs, regardless of economic factors. 

With that said, it's time to take a look back at last year's biggest deals, exits and funds, if only to get a sense where this might be all going:

PE deals 

1. Keurig Dr Pepper—$21 billion add-on in July 

Keurig Green Mountain, the PE-backed beverage business known for its immensely popular coffee maker, completed a deal to buy soda maker Dr Pepper Snapple for upward of $21 billion, creating a beverage giant with some $11 billion in annual revenue and putting popular brands such as 7UP, Snapple and Canada Dry under the same private equity umbrella.

Europe-based JAB Holding was behind it all. The buyout shop has backed Keurig since buying the business through a $13.9 billion buyout in 2016.

2. Toshiba memory chip unit—$18 billion buyout in May

It took more than eight months to complete thanks to a series of regulatory hurdles imposed by the Chinese government, but Bain Capital eventually completed its deal to buy the memory chip unit of Toshiba for 2 trillion yen (about $18 billion). The Boston-based buyout shop teamed up with Apple, Dell, chipmaker SK Hynix and others, with Toshiba retaining a 40% stake in the business. 

3. Refinitiv—$17 billion buyout in October 

It's not as if Blackstone had been flying under the radar over the past decade. But it had been a few years since Stephen Schwarzman's buyout shop flexed its financial muscle with an 11-figure investment in private equity. That changed when it acquired a 55% stake in the since-renamed financial & risk unit of Thomson Reuters in a deal that valued the business at $20 billion. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and sovereign wealth fund GIC invested alongside Blackstone. 

4. Global Logistics Properties—$11.8 billion public-to-private buyout in January

A consortium of Chinese investors including Hopu Investment Management, Hillhouse Capital, Bank of China Group Investment and Vanke wrapped up a S$16 billion deal (about $11.8 billion at today's conversion rate) for Singapore-based warehouse operator Global Logistic Properties. The group beat out a consortium led by Warburg Pincus. 

5. Nouryon—$11.5 billion buyout in October 

The Carlyle Group and GIC beat out a consortium including Apollo Global Management and another including Bain Capital and Advent to acquire the specialty chemicals business of Amsterdam-based paint company Akzo Nobel for €10.1 billion (about $11.5 billion). The company has since rebranded while continuing to manufacture papers, plastics, building materials and personal care items. 

PE exits 

1. ADT—$1.5 billion IPO that valued the business at $10.5 billion in January

Apollo Global Management kicked off the new year by taking the home security services business public at $14 per share, raising $1.47 billion. That was below its expected $17 to $19 price range, but it still marked a nice turnaround for Apollo after it bought ADT in a $6.9 billion leveraged buyout in 2016.

But the ensuing months have been rough for ADT. As of Tuesday, the company's stock had fallen to $6.95 per share, dropping the market cap to some $5.3 billion.

2. BMC Software—$8.3 billion secondary buyout in October

When KKR bought BMC Software in a deal worth some $8.3 billion, it made headlines for being KKR's largest PE investment since the financial crisis. But it also provided a massive exit for Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital, which bought the Houston-based software provider alongside GIC and Insight Venture Partners for a reported $6.9 billion in 2013. 

3. Sedgwick Claims Management—$6.7 billion secondary buyout in December 

On the final day of 2018, The Carlyle Group completed a deal to buy a majority stake in Sedgwick from KKR and other investors. Stone Point Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and company management retained a minority stake in the insurance claims business, which the KKR-led group originally bought from Hellman & Friedman for $2.4 billion in 2014. 

4. Gates Industrial—$732 million IPO that valued the business at $5.4 billion in January

Gates Industrial, a Blackstone-backed provider of power transmission belts and fluid power products, raised $731.5 million in its public debut in January by selling 38.5 million shares at $19 apiece. Its valuation has since dipped to roughly $4.1 billion, with shares closing Tuesday trading at $14.12 apiece. Blackstone bought the business from Onex and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for roughly $5.4 billion in 2014. 

5. Marketo—$4.8 billion corporate acquisition in October 

Vista Equity Partners had one of its most lucrative exits to date when it sold Marketo, a B2B provider of marketing analytics, to Adobe Systems for $4.75 billion. And the firm did it much faster than the typical five-year private equity timeline after taking the business private for $1.8 billion in 2016. 

PE funds

1. Carlyle Partners VII—Closed on $18.5 billion in July 

It was nowhere near Apollo's record $24.7 billion buyout fund raised in 2017, but The Carlyle Group's seventh flagship vehicle was still the largest private equity fund closed in the world this past year. The vehicle easily eclipsed its $15 billion target and a predecessor that raised $13 billion in 2013. 

2. Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners IX—Raised $16 billion as of October, per an SEC filing

Hellman & Friedman took a big step forward with its latest fund, surpassing a predecessor that raised around $11 billion in 2014. Established in 1984, the San Francisco-based buyout shop invests in a wide swath of industries, including software, financial services, healthcare and more. 

3. EQT VIII—Closed on about $12.3 billion in February 

EQT became another private equity shop to join the $10 billion buyout club when it announced its eighth flagship vehicle had closed on €10.75 billion (about $12.3 billion at today's conversion rate) just five months after it launched. And in a sign of LP confidence, some 70% of the commitments came from investors in EQT VII, which closed on €6.75 billion in 2015. 

4. Hillhouse Fund IV—Closed on $10.6 billion in September 

When Hillhouse Capital announced it had raised $10.6 billion, it officially topped KKR's $9.3 billion Asia-focused vintage from 2017 to become the largest fund ever raised in Asia by a private equity firm. The Hong Kong-based pool will invest in the global healthcare, consumer, technology and services sectors, with a specific focus on the Asia region. 

5. BC European Capital X—Closed on some $8 billion in January 

BC Partners has been around since 1986, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. The London-based buyout shop's €7 billion fund (about $8 billion at today's conversion rate) pulled in capital from a pool of 130 investors, with roughly 35% hailing from North America, 25% from Europe and 35% from Asia and the Middle East. 

For more 2018 in Review coverage, don't miss our recap of the top five VC deals, exits & funds of last year. 

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