It's been a bit of a mixed bag for US private equity activity so far in 2019. Fluctuating markets initially depressed exit and dealmaking activity, but a recovery in the leveraged lending and public markets has inspired confidence. While dealmaking has now recovered to match the pace of 2018, questions of whether that pace will continue have arisen as concerns over geopolitical activity and economic performance have increased. PE exit activity also remains below historical norms, while fundraising figures are on track to top 2018, with more than $100 billion raised in the US in 1H.
If you want to learn more about the US PE landscape, our 2Q 2019 US PE Breakdown
takes a deeper look into what trends have developed over the course of the year. The full report is available to download for free, but we put together this handy set of charts to look at some of the highlights.
On pace, but not really
The first half of the year saw a similar amount of deals and overall value as the first half of last year, with 2,142 deals closing at a total of $297.1 billion in 1H. Despite keeping pace with last year, it will be hard to match 2019 on a full-year basis, as economic headwinds such as trade wars and slowing growth around the world will likely put pressure on those numbers.
Mo' money, mo' problems
As EV/EBITDA multiples have slowly crept up, the median US buyout size has started to balloon as well. Outsized funds have increasingly given GPs the firepower to make these larger deals, though, pushing the median size of every deal type to record levels.
More deals are getting bigger
While deals under $25 million have always made up a sizable portion of the deal count in US PE, the category has started shrinking as larger deals have increased in number.
IT, healthcare and B2B continue to dominate
IT, healthcare and B2B combined for a whopping 63% of total US PE deal value in 1H. And they make up an even higher percentage of deal count. It remains to be seen whether the trend continues or not; however, as headwinds continue to pressure markets into making less deals, capital will likely be prudently deployed into only the most proven and popular sectors.
GP stakes pick up in popularity
Investing and fundraising in GP stakes have started to pick up significantly as the space proves itself with high cash-on-cash yields and LPs continue to search for ways to increase exposure to PE investments beyond committing capital to vanilla buyout funds. While venture firms have started to receive some of the capital raised through this strategy, a majority of the capital is going to late-stage firms or buyout firms that gather larger and steadier sums of AUM on which they charge management fees.
Historically low exit activity drags on
US PE exit activity clocked in at $62 billion across 168 exits in 2Q, both of which were below historic averages. And 1Q wasn't much better. It is yet to be seen whether the booming public markets will encourage more firms to explore exits in the later half of this year, or whether external factors will deter those considerations.
Larger funds keep taking in the most capital
US PE funds have, unsurprisingly, continued to capture a huge amount of capital in 2Q, though fundraising did drop compared to 1Q. Overall, this year will likely surpass 2018's full-year figures, with Blackstone expected to close a record $25 billion mega-fund by year's end.