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Private Debt
Deal Tracker

A quarterly overview of the European Private Debt Market

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Deloitte Private Debt Deal Tracker Spring 2024 Update

Renewed signs of optimism as European private debt deal volumes leap 34% to round off what has been a testing year for the asset class
Deal activity rallied in Q4 with 189 deals1 completed, a 34% increase2 compared to Q3 and the second-highest quarter – by volume – on record since activity peaked in H2 2021. Compared to H1 2023 (263 deals), activity increased by 25% with 330 deals completed in the latter half of the year. As previously predicted, these may be early indications of a more promising start to 2024 – partly due to improved investor sentiment around stabilising market conditions, but also further compounded by private equity sponsors looking to exit investments and recycle capital to LPs.

UK market starts to bounce back, reversing a two-year trend of declining volumes
Activity picked up most-notably in the UK in Q4, with 58 deals completed. By way of comparison, only 100 deals were completed throughout Q1-Q3 2023. On an absolute basis, Q4 represented the second most active quarter in the UK since the start of 2022. On a relative basis, activity in the UK exceeded 30% of all deal volumes for the first time over the equivalent period – reversing a declining trend that bottomed out at less-than 20% in Q3 2023. The increase in relative prevalence of deal activity in the UK has come at the expense of flat growth in European regions such as Germany, Ireland and Benelux – as opposed to France (28%) where volumes have shown significant resilience throughout 2023. Despite tentative signs of improved investor and lender sentiment throughout the UK market, it is important to note that 2023 was a strenuous year for deal-making, especially when compared with 2021 and 2022 volumes.

Leverage continues to slide as higher-for-longer interest rates continue to put pressure on debt serviceability
Consistent with historical behaviour, lenders continued to focus on resilient and cash-generative assets throughout 2023, with TMT (22%), Business Services (22%), Healthcare & Life Sciences (14%) and Financial Services (11%) accounting for nearly 70% of all deals. Notably, however, average leverage across these sectors declined by approximately 0.5x year-on-year. By way of comparison, the proportion of deals with leverage less-than 4.0x rose from 30% to 50%. In contrast, the proportion of deals with leverage above 6.0x declined from 18% to 10%. With many expecting base rates to taper in H2 2024, it will be interesting to see whether this trend starts to bottom out or reverse over the next 12-18 months.

LBO volumes remain steady as refinancing activity reaches the highest level since 2021 – suggesting that sponsors may be starting to exit investments
Leverage buyout (LBO) activity remained flat from Q3 to Q4, rounding out the year with nearly 200 transactions (33% of all deal activity) – similar to 2020 on an absolute basis. By comparison, 2021 and 2022 each yielded over 300 LBOs. Bolt-on activity dominated deal flow in 2023 and, for the first time since the inception of the Deal Tracker, accounted for the highest proportion of volumes at 34%. For reference, 2022 was the only other year since 2012 that this figure has exceeded 25%. There was a noticeable uptick in refinancings in H2 2023, with 60 deals executed across the period – the last time this figure reached 60 was in H2 2021.

It is clear that sponsors continue to drive value creation in their portfolio companies via bolt-on M&A. However, it remains to be seen whether the recent increase in LBOs is reflective of the bid-ask spread reducing, as sponsors exit investments held for longer than normal throughout 2023. If early indications are anything to go by, a noticeable increase in appetite for transactions since the start of the year indicates that 2024 may hopefully be more prosperous than 2023.

1 Like-for-like basis is 183 deals, calculated by adjusting deal count to reflect the same population of Lender respondents from previous quarter
2 Like-for-like basis is 33%, calculated by adjusting deal count to reflect the same population of Lender respondents from previous quarter

Insights into the Deloitte Private Debt Deal Tracker

Currently covers 78 private debt providers. Only UK and European deals are included in the survey.

Total deals completed
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Euro deals completed
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UK deals completed

How much funding has been raised by which Direct Lending managers?

Global
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Global Direct Lending fundraising by quarter



Cumulative number of deals per country

Largest geographic markets
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Past Videos

Autumn 2023: Lenders wait in the wings for an uptick in European M&A



Andrew Cruickshank

Spring 2023: Volatility drives a slowdown in deal activity



Robert Connold

Winter 2022: Deal activity decelerates in the face of macro-economic headwinds



Robert Connold

Autumn 2022: Evolving from the Deloitte Alternative Lender Deal Tracker



Ella Ward

Autumn 2022: Welcome to the Deloitte Private Debt Deal Tracker 'PDDT'



Robert Connold

Autumn 2022: 2022 Market Trends



Andrew Cruickshank

Evolving from the Deloitte Alternative Lender Deal Tracker

In the ten years we have been tracking alternative lending, one of the most remarkable observations has been the speed at which it has grown. Since 2012 the asset class has grown in Europe from $36.2bn of AUM to $187bn today. The number of lenders we collaborate with for this publication has grown from 20 to 78. The headcount in the direct lending market has more than doubled since 2016. In the space of a decade the alternative lending market has grown to be more than just a niche subcategory of a larger fixed income/alternatives strategy, to an asset class of its own right.

In our Spring 2022 edition of the Alternative Lender Deal Tracker, we questioned whether it may be time to refresh the title of this publication given that non-bank lending makes up an estimated 80% of mid-market deals. We had to ask ourselves “Is ‘alternative lending’ really that alternative?”

Now, as we finish celebrating ten years of the Alternative Lender Deal Tracker, we are happy to announce that we are renaming our publication to the Private Debt Deal Tracker. There are many ways in which the field is still growing and developing and there is a long way to go on the road to full maturity. We look forward to delivering insights on the twists and turns along the way. Here’s to the next ten years!

Background

Our Debt Advisory team has been in active dialogue with the leading European lenders to set up a quarterly database, which monitors the primary European deal activity involving these lenders. 78 private debt funds now participate in the Deloitte Private Debt Deal Tracker and the results are released to interested parties on a quarterly basis and via a bi-annual publication.

The Deloitte Debt, Capital & Treasury Advisory team releases a full Deal Tracker publication on a twice-yearly basis with the first edition covering H1 (released in Q3) and the second edition covering H2 (released in Q1 the following year). The online interactive database on this webpage is updated on a quarterly basis.

Debt, Capital & Treasury Advisory

Debt, Capital & Treasury Advisory is an integral part of Deloitte's Financial Advisory practice, providing independent advice and world class execution across the full spectrum of debt markets through the firm's global network.

The team offers advice to clients on all aspects of dealing with debt providers, including the refinancing of debt, raising acquisition finance, and considering accessing a new debt market. Clients include public and private companies, PE houses and their investee companies, financial institutions and governments.

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Key contacts

Andrew Cruickshank

Head of Private Debt Deal Tracker


Robert Connold

Partner, UK Debt, Capital & Treasury Advisory


Jed Poole

Manager, UK Debt, Capital & Treasury Advisory


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