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Buyouts: Public-to-private deals talked up in Europe

There are high expectations for European public-to-private deals this year but there is much uncertainty in the sector about how many will actually make it to market

The time it takes to get a deal done, and indeed the vacillation of companies considering deals, makes it hard to predict when and how such deals will materialize.

However, the pipeline for the coming year is promising. In the Netherlands a number of companies, including Dutch conglomerate Stork, either have requests for proposals under way or are investigating the option.

The UK also promises another strong year for public-to-private deals. UK deals for 2005 totalled £7.36 billion ($12.9 billion) in 14 transactions, which accounted for more than a quarter of the UK management buyout market last year, according to research by KPMG. And more of the same is expected in 2006.

France, on the other hand, continues to show potential but delivers little. A recent report by Simon Witney at European law firm SJ Berwin noted that in the past five years, an average of six public-to-private deals have been completed each year. According to Witney, for those deals that did reach completion the average market capitalization of French targets was half that of those in the UK.

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