Private Equity Trend Report 2022

PwC study: PE activity at a new record level

Your expert for questions

Steve Roberts
PE Leader Germany & EMEA at PwC Germany
Tel: +49 69 9585-1950

European PE transactions with new record

2021, the European economy has gradually recovered from COVID-19 and the aftermath of the pandemic. Despite some ongoing uncertainties, deal activity with private equity (PE) participation reached a new record level: a total of 3,146 transactions with a total deal value of EUR 217.4 billion took place in 2021. This represents an increase of 13 percent in deal volume compared to 2020 and 54.6 percent in deal value (2020: 140.6 billion euros). 

These are some of the key findings of the current Private Equity Trend Report 2022 by the auditing and consulting firm PwC Germany. Read more about the findings in detail now. 

“Digitization and sustainability will continue to be the focus of investors. With a hot market, with high competition and record levels of dry powder, RoI is under pressure making value creation even more important. This should continue to spur deal activity in 2022.”

Steve Roberts,PE Leader Germany & EMEA at PwC Germany

The study at a glance

The study records a total of 3,146 transactions with private equity participation in 2021, with a total deal value of EUR 217.4 billion. This results in an average deal value of EUR 160 million. By comparison, in 2020 there were a total of 2,785 deals (total deal value: EUR 141 billion, average deal value: EUR 101 million). 

The five-year comparison shows almost a doubling, both in terms of transaction volume and value: in 2016, a total of 1,863 deals took place with a total value of EUR 99 billion euros (average deal value: EUR 85 million). 

Infografik: Europe M&A Trends 2016 – 2021

Technology sector most attractive for PE investors

The sector that saw the most deals was Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), accounting for a total of 40.1 percent of European deals. Industrial Manufacturing & Automotive came as the second strongest sector (25.2 percent), followed by Consumer Goods (17.5 percent). 

Infografik: PE Deals by Sector in 2021

Around one in five deals took place in the DACH region

The deals were distributed among the European regions as follows: 21.6 percent of PE transactions took place in the DACH region, 9.3 percent in the Benelux countries. The remaining 69.1 percent took place in the other Western and Central European countries. 

Infografik: PW Deals by Countries in 2021

In absolute terms, there were 679 deals in the DACH region (Germany: 536, Switzerland: 97, Austria: 46), and 292 in the Benelux countries (Netherlands: 218, Belgium: 70, Luxembourg: 4). Most transactions (753) took place in the UK, followed by France with 582 deals.

Infografik: PE Deals by Countries (2021)

The top 3 private equity deals

The buyout of Dutch blinds manufacturer Hunter Douglas by 3G Capital, based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the deal with the largest value (EUR 6.3 billion) in 2021. The deal with the second largest transaction value (EUR 5.1 billion) was the buyout of Dutch telecommunications provider T-Mobile Netherlands by Apax Funds (London, UK) and Warburg Pincus (New York, USA). Third place went to the secondary buyout of the French group Cerba HealthCare, one of the leading medical diagnostics companies, by the Stockholm, Sweden-based investment group EQT Partners AB (transaction value: EUR 4.5 billion).

Infografik: Top 10 Deals

Digitization and sustainability are the most important trends in the coming years

Technology and sustainability continue to attract the greatest interest among investors. In fact, 99 percent of respondents plan to invest in digitization in 2022, particularly in data analytics (75 percent), the Internet of Things (63 percent), artificial intelligence (53 percent), blockchain (52 percent) and robotics (51 percent). 77 percent of respondents also said their companies have an ESG (environment, social, governance) strategy – and the tools to implement it on an operational level.

Further study results

Covenant breaches remain high

All respondents recorded at least one breach of covenant at their portfolio companies – despite government support programs and pandemic-related renegotiations of loan terms. 52 percent reported covenant breaches at 10–20 percent of their portfolio companies; 34 percent of investors experienced this at more than 20 percent of their companies; only 14 percent reported covenant breaches at less than 10 percent of their portfolio companies. Nevertheless, 61 percent of PE houses report to be satisfied with the performance of their portfolio companies.

ROI mostly as expected

Asked whether they were satisfied with the return on investment (ROI) of their activities over the past five to seven years, just over half of investors said the ROI met their expectations. For about one-third, ROI was even greater than expected, and for only 15 percent, ROI did not meet investor expectations.

Infografik: ROI of the past five to seven years

Challenges for PE industry

The majority of investors surveyed cited increasing regulation, the economic impact of COVID-19 on their portfolios and deal flow, and limited investment opportunities as key challenges facing the European PE industry over the next five years.

Infografik: Challenges for PE industry

Germany remains attractive

The investors who have already made investments in Germany intend to continue doing so – this was the opinion of all respondents without exception. 80 percent of investors with activities in Germany even want to increase their investment volume in the next five years. The increasing willingness of the approximately 3 million mid-sized companies, the traditionally strong German “Mittelstand”, to open up to private equity also plays a crucial role here.

“Operational improvements already became increasingly important for PE investors after the recent financial crisis. With the current challenges posed by COVID-19, they now become a fundamental strategic issue.”

Steve Roberts,Private Equity Leader Germany & EMEA, PwC Germany


In late 2021, PwC surveyed 250 European partners and managing directors in private equity firms, with each participating firm having at least EUR 250 million in assets under management. Respondents were from the UK (18 percent), France (14 percent), Germany (14 percent), the US (8 percent), the Netherlands (6 percent), Belgium (6 percent), Spain (5 percent), Sweden (4 percent), Italy (4 percent), Denmark (4 percent), Norway (4 percent), Finland (3 percent), Portugal (2 percent), Switzerland (2 percent), Luxembourg (2 percent), Austria (2 percent), Ireland (1 percent) and Greece (1 percent).

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Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts

Leiter Private Equity bei PwC Deutschland und auf EMEA-Ebene, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 69 9585-1950

Elena Naydenova

Elena Naydenova

Senior Manager, Head of PE Business Development, PwC Germany