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US private equity deal activity slows in 2019

U.S. private equity, venture capital and private equity real estate activity was down year over year in 2019, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

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In total in 2019, 5,272 entries with a gross transaction value of $200.69 billion were reported, compared to 6,043 entries worth a combined $252.37 billion in 2018 — the highest deal volume and transaction value seen across a five-year period — based on available information.

Including portfolio company activity, 2019 saw 8,643 deals announced, down 8.1% year on year. Gross transaction value was $643.41 billion, 2.4% lower than in 2019.

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Many general partners made cautious investment decisions during the year and sought out assets with strong promise for value creation in a high pricing environment. Managers also looked for more complex deals such as take private transactions and corporate carve outs.

Information technology reigned supreme as the asset class's most coveted sector in the U.S. during 2019, with a total of 2,007 entries announced. Healthcare was the second most popular sector, recording 969 deals.

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Standout deal announcements included Digital Colony Partners LP and EQT Partners AB's $14.5 billion acquisition of U.S. communications infrastructure provider Zayo Group Holdings Inc. and a Hellman & Friedman LLC-led consortium's $11 billion acquisition of cloud-based human capital management services provider Ultimate Software Group Inc., according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's calculated value.

The Blackstone Group Inc. also led a consortium, which, alongside Thomson Reuters Corp., entered into an agreement to sell financial data analytics platform Refinitiv to the London Stock Exchange Group PLC, or LSEG, in a $29 billion deal. The consortium and Thomson Reuters will hold an approximately 37% interest in LSEG following the deal.

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