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The jumbo LBO market reopens

A burst of big acquisitions has sparked fresh talk of a new leveraged buyout boom. But, even with ripe debt financing conditions, stockpiles of cash and rising equity valuations, both private equity firms and their advisers doubt there’s a big slew of further jumbo deals in the pipeline.

Does Warren Buffett’s takeover deal for Heinz do exactly what it says on the tin – mark the reopening of the jumbo leveraged buyout market?

Or is the Heinz deal, as well as recent M&A activity involving such companies as Dell, Virgin Media, AMR Corp, Anheuser-Busch InBev and NBC Universal, simply the flavour of the month – long-awaited strategic plays from CEOs that happen to have come out at the same time.

Dell, the world’s third-largest computer maker, sparked the prospect of a revival in February when it revealed an audacious plan to take itself private in a $24.4 billion leveraged buyout – the largest since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007.

If few had foreseen Michael Dell orchestrating a take-private of the company he founded in a dorm room some three decades ago, even fewer could claim to have predicted what followed.

Together, these multibillion dollar transactions constitute a big chunk of over $160 billion-worth of announced M&A transactions globally since the beginning of January – the fastest and most impressive start to a year since 2005, according to Dealogic.

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