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Buyout values rise as market picks up.

TAKEOVERS such as the pounds 950m swoop for retailer Pets at Home have pushed the value ofUKprivate equity buyouts to a two-year high.

The total value of private-equity backed deals reached pounds 5bn in the first quarter of 2010, according to statistics from the Centre for Management Buyout Research, The figure was helped by the buyout of Cheshire-based Pets at home - which has a store at Great Northern Retail Park in Huddersfield - as well as medical courier Marken.

The value of business done in the opening months of 2010 already exceeds the pounds 4.7bn seen for the whole of last year and is at its highest since the first quarter of 2008 before the onset of the recession.

Private equity firms benefited from a glut of cheap debt during the boom years - taking over a raft of household names, including the AA and high street giant Boots.

But the onset of the credit crunch in late 2007 put an end to the buyout boom.

Barclays Private Equity director Christian Marriott said the upturn signalled a "renewed appetite" among private equity firms to spend.

But activity remains well below the pounds 20.4bn in deals seen at the peak in the second quarter of 2007.

Mr Marriott ruled out a swift return to the heady days of the buyout binge.

He said: "The strong start to the year may not necessarily signal a sustained resurgence in theUKbuyout market, rather a more gradual recovery over the next few years as confidence returns to the market."

The Pets at Home and Marken deals accounted for 40% of the buyouts by value during the first three months of the year and pushed up the average size of buyouts to pounds 116.7m from pounds 39.5m during 2009.

There were 43 buyouts in total during the quarter, up 72% from the final three months of 2009.

Of the 12 deals valued at more than pounds 100m, eight were secondary deals where a company was sold from one buyout firm to another.


* PET OWNER: The takeover of retailer Pets at Home contributed to a rise in buyout values
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2010
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