Far from increasing their commitment to private equity, it seems that UK pension schemes cut rather than increased their investment in private equity last year, from 1.6 billion in 2001 to 796 million in 2002. Or so reveals the annual survey of investment activity by members of the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), collated and analysed by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Given this finding, it is not surprising that fund raising was difficult last year. UK funds raised 7.8 billion – which is 43% down on the all-time record set in 2001 of 13.6 billion. However, BVCA argues that private equity investments held up well in 2002, considering the difficult environment, and especially the lack of exit routes. Whilst investment totals were down from 2001 levels, nearly 1,500 companies were financed in 2002 and the overall amount invested by UK private equity firms reached almost 5.5 billion. Just under half of these companies were in the high technology industries, although the amount of investment into high technology fell. The key points were:
In 2002 investments were made in 1,459 companies worldwide compared to 1,597 in 2001, a decline of just 9%. Worldwide investment by UK private equity firms fell 11% in 2002 to 5,466 million from 6,164 million in 2001. The average financing across all stages of investment fell slightly to 3.7 million in 2002 from 3.9 million in 2001. . In the UK alone, the number of companies financed decreased by 9% to 1,196. Investment in the UK decreased by 6% in 2002 to 4,480 million from 4,752 million in 2001. The UK now represents 82% of the total amount invested, up from 77% in 2001. Investment in overseas companies fell 30% in 2002 to 986 million and the number of companies financed overseas fell 9% to 263. There was a substantial reduction in investment in the USA which fell 73% to 54 million. Continental Europe fell 25% to 899 million. 11% of the amount invested overseas was at early-stage, much the same as its share in 2001, whilst overseas MBOs increased to 62% invested from 46% in 2001. The expansion stage fell from 37% invested to 21%.
Member firms of the BVCA represent the vast majority of private equity and venture capital in the UK, and this report collates the data provided by 159 (98%) of the 163 firms which were members of the BVCA at the time questionnaires were sent out. The term ‘private equity’ encompasses both management buy-out and buy-in activity and venture capital.