The Private Equity Review: Editor's Preface
The tenth edition of The Private Equity Review follows a turbulent year for dealmakers in 2020. Uncertainties created by the global covid-19 pandemic triggered a significant slowdown in deal activity in the first and second quarters. However, a combination of central bank interventions, fiscal stimulus, optimism about a vaccine and better virus management led to frenetic third and, especially, fourth quarters. The net result was that the number and value of global buyouts increased significantly over 2019's already robust activity, while there was a noticeable decline in private equity exits. The year 2020 also saw a flurry of IPO and merger and acquisition activity by special purpose acquisition corporations, or SPACs, some formed by private equity sponsors and others formed by other dealmakers. Fundraising activity was also strong, notwithstanding the pandemic, with aggregate capital of nearly US$1 trillion raised, as institutional investors remained extremely interested in private equity as an asset class because of its continued strong performance. As a result, private equity funds have record amounts – by one estimate, nearly US$1.5 trillion – of available capital, or dry powder. PE funds' dry powder (and the need to deploy it), together with competition from SPACs, sovereign wealth funds, family offices and pension funds, led to very competitive transactions being completed at increasing leverage levels and purchase price multiples. This has caused private equity firms to become even more creative as they seek opportunities in less competitive markets or in industries where they have unique expertise.
The year 2020 showed once again the resilience of the private equity market and the creativity of private equity dealmakers. Given PE funds' creativity and available capital, we are confident that private equity will continue to play an important role in the global economy, not only in North America and Western Europe, but also in developing and emerging markets in Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa, and to further expand its reach and influence, even in the face of potential political, regulatory and economic challenges.
Private equity professionals need practical and informed guidance from local practitioners about how to raise money and close deals in multiple jurisdictions. The Private Equity Review has been prepared with this need in mind. It contains contributions from leading private equity practitioners in 25 different countries, with observations and advice on private equity dealmaking and fundraising in their respective jurisdictions.
As private equity has grown, it has also faced increasing regulatory scrutiny throughout the world. Adding to this complexity, regulation of private equity is not uniform from country to country. As a result, the following chapters also include a brief discussion of these various regulatory regimes.
I want to thank everyone who contributed their time and labour to making this tenth edition of The Private Equity Review possible. Each of these contributors is a leader in their respective markets, so I appreciate that they have used their valuable and scarce time to share their expertise.
Stephen L Ritchie
Kirkland & Ellis LLP