Last week Baxter International, the Deerfield, Illinois
healthcare company, announced it would buy Gambro AB, the
privately held Swedish dialysis product maker for about $4
For Gambro, which is owned by Sweden-based private equity
funds Investor AB and EQT, the opportunity to join Baxter and
form the worlds second-largest dialysis company was too
good to pass. Growth at Gambro in recent years has slowed down
due to price competition and a slumping European economy. For
Baxter, which in 2011 had revenue of nearly $14 billion and a
pile of cash overseas, it was a strategic opportunity to deploy
the capital. But for EQT and Investor AB, the two private
equity funds that own Gambro, it was another highly profitable
deal that the Swedish dealmakers helped engineer.
In an environment in which dealmakers that also are
long-term global investors are in short supply, Swedish private
equity funds find themselves in great demand. Weve
always been investors for the long term, avoiding the cyclicals
and focusing on telecommunications, transformational IT and
healthcare, says Thomas von Koch, a founding partner of
EQT, which manages more than $18 billion in assets.
Although Swedens involvement in global M&As and
private equity pales next to the U.S. and even the U.K., its
importance within Europe has grown significantly
especially as most of its neighbors face economic uncertainty
and forecasts of slow growth ahead. In 2011, the flow of
investment funds into Sweden amounted to $5.6 billion or 14.1
percent of the total funds flowing into Europe, according to
data compiled by EVCA, the Brussels-based trade group
representing European private equity and venture capital. Just
five years ago in 2007, the $4.6 billion of funds that went
into Sweden accounted for only 5.7 percent of the total.
The flow of capital into 368 Swedish companies in 2011 rose
to $8.7 billion or 7.4 percent of the total invested in
European companies. In 2007, the flow of private equity into
478 Swedish companies was $2.1 billion, less than 1 percent of
the total into European companies.
At a time when the euro zone is near collapse, beset by
unstable currencies, conflicting laws and regulations, and
unpredictable markets, Sweden in spite of its size and
geographical location has emerged as one of the
continents safe havens.