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2021 was a record-shattering year for private equity M&A

PE deal volume and deal value jumped over 2020—and high M&A activity is poised to continue in 2022.


PE deal making in 2021 set an all-time high. Overall deal volume increased by 35 percent from the previous year while deal value jumped by 77 percent on the back of many high-value transactions.

Among other factors, M&A was driven by ample dry powder, ultra-low interest rates, and possible hikes to capital gains and corporate taxes which accelerated deals before policy implementation.

A deeper look at these PE trends reveals key characteristics of the market last year.

  • Domestic deals still made up the bulk of PE transactions (72 percent) and outbound deals increased slightly compared to 2020
  • The technology, media, & telecom and industrial manufacturing sectors led in deal value—together constituting 60 percent of PE’s total—primarily driven by the pursuit of digital transformation and tech capabilities
  • The healthcare & life sciences and consumer & retail sectors registered the highest growth rate in deal value—132 percent and 90 percent, respectively
  • SPACs continued to play an increasing role in PE funds’ exit strategy compared to traditional IPOs
  • PE firms increasingly incorporated ESG-driven investments into their portfolios

Looking ahead to 2022, abundant liquidity and dry powder are likely to drive continued high levels of PE M&A activity. But growth may cool somewhat due to a more hawkish monetary policy, inflation, high valuation multiples, and other headwinds. Overall deal appetite remains strong. According to a yearend KPMG survey, 65 percent of senior executive respondents plan to increase their deal activity in 2022.

PE Deal Volume and Deal Value ($ Billion)

PE Deal Volume and Deal Value ($ Billion)

PE Deal Volume and Deal Value

PE Deal Volume and Deal Value

Our 2021 report unpacks these trends and what’s ahead—including deep dives on three topics:

The Great Resignation: War for talent

Procurement excellence: Helping portfolio companies deal with cost pressures

ESG: Getting serious about ESG

Download the full report to uncover what is happening in PE, how deals are being done today—and why.

Dive into our thinking:

Deaal making that made history

Download PDF

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