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Has Success Spoiled U.K. Private Equity?

Private equity business is booming in Europe with the exception of the U.K., and the industry itself may be partly to blame.

Private equity business is booming in Europe with the exception of the U.K., and the industry itself may be partly to blame. According to the Center for Management Buy-Out Research, p.e. deals in Britain dropped by more than 20% in the first half of 2006 to Û15 billion (US$19.25 billion), while the mainland enjoyed a 70% growth spurt. ÒPrivate equity in U.K. is a bit of a victim of its own success,Ó Tom Lamb of Barclays Private Equity, which co-sponsored the study with Deloitte, told BBC News. Lamb said itÕs not easy to pull the wool over the eyes of U.K. investors, who Ònow feel that a company must be undervalued if a private equity bidder show an interestÓ Ð which leads investors to reject bids. (Ironically, last month Lamb also noted that private equity firms were turning their nose up to deals they deemed too expensive.) As for the surge on the mainland, Lamb explained that the U.K. is a more mature p.e. market, and now the rest of the Europe is playing catch up. Despite the stark contrast between the U.K. and mainland, Lamb predicts that the private equity market in the U.K. will still grow this year.

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