Another day, another outsize buyout. Private equity firm the Carlyle Group LP's (Nasdaq: CG) 10.1 billion euro ($12.5 billion) acquisition of Akzo Nobel NV’s specialty chemicals division adds to the string of deals that are earning 2018 a "year of the big buyout" moniker. In 2017, Akzo Nobel rejected an unsolicited offer from PPG.
The combination of liquid debt markets and private equity firms being keen to deploy stores of dry powder has opened the way for a run of large acquisitions with accompanying debt financings that span U.S. and European markets.
"There is a wall of money in the market that needs to be spent and there’s a lot of hidden value in corporate carve outs," Tom Whelan, global head of private equity at law firm Hogan Lovells LLP, said.
Financing for Akzo Nobel’s chemicals business amounts to about 6.5 billion euros of term loans and high-yield bonds, in a mix of dollars and euros, according to people familiar with the transaction who asked not to be identified.
It’s undeniably a very large buyout, but it’s not even biggest so far this year. Blackstone Group LP’s $17 billion buyout of Thomson Reuters Corp’s financial and risk division will be backed by more than $13 billion of debt financing, also reaching across the U.S. and European loan and bond markets. Buyouts of spreads business Flora Food Group and Danish phone company TDC A/S join this year’s cluster of outsized deals to test the capacity of the financing markets.
And there are more big deals on the horizon. Linde AG and Praxair Inc. -- which are awaiting regulatory approval for their merger -- have started a sale of European and U.S. industrial gas assets that may fetch about $8 billion and is attracting private equity interest.
"We could see more sizable investment in Europe as buyers with deep pockets look to navigate around U.S. transactions given close scrutiny from CFIUS, the panel which reviews acquisitions of American firms by foreign investors for national security concerns," Hogan Lovells’ Whelan said.