Kevin Dowd February 28, 2017
Over the past decade, the trend is clear: American private equity and venture capital firms are turning their eyes to the south. Activity in the US and Canada gets the bulk of the ink (and pixels), but many of their continental cousins—most notably Mexico and Brazil—are the sites of growing financial industries.
Recent political developments in the US may cloud the picture in the coming months. But for now, at least, many of the nations, long pegged as emerging markets, seem at long last to have emerged.
Between the VC and PE spheres, US investors completed a record 242 investments in Mexico, Central America and South America during 2015, according to the PitchBook Platform. While that number dipped to 218 last year, the overall rise in deal flow is still clear. Investors averaged 62 deals in the extended region between 2008 and 2010, for instance, a figure that climbed to 225 for the most recent three-year period.
Here's a full look at the year-by-year deal flow:
One likely driver of the change is increased attention to IT. Before 2010, deals in the tech sector made up less than 15% of all activity in Central and South America. From 2011 on, meanwhile, that rate has never dipped below 30%. Overall, though, investment in the space lags behind the US and Canada. Since 2005, IT acquisitions make up about 28.7% of all deals south of the US border, compared to a 33.7% figure for businesses located in the US and Canada.
Here’s a full side-by-side comparison of the sector activity for North America’s pair of more northern nations compared with their southern neighbors since the start of 2005:
Since the start of 2005, just about five out of every eight private investments made south of the US border has taken place in either Brazil or Mexico, with Brazil registering a 39% share and Mexico checking in at 25%. After that, it’s a stark drop to Argentina (9% of all deals), Chile (7%) and Colombia (7%), with no other nation accounting for a share larger than 4%.
In terms of deal type, those 1,204 investments make up a diverse group. The plurality have been buyouts, but those deals make up a mere 20% of all activity. A whole host of other deal types pop up in significant amounts, ranging from seed deals to early-stage investments to growth financings to add-ons. Overall, the divide between PE deals and VC deals in the region is roughly equal.
A list of the top US firms in the region, though, leans slightly toward buyout shops. Here’s a rundown of the 10 busiest PE and VC investors in Mexico, Central America and South America since the start of 2005:
Subscribers to the PitchBook Platform can check out the full list right here.