Matthew Abbott
Matthew Abbott is a partner and global co-chair of the M&A group at law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

The year 2020 was the “tale of two halves” for many private equity dealmakers, with the first half defined by the pandemic and a sudden pullback in deals across industries, and the second half marked by an uptick in optimism and the urge to deploy capital in a rapidly recovering economy. That momentum continued in 2021, and it hasn’t slowed down.

Private equity dealmakers will look back on 2021 as one of the busiest years of their careers, fueled by a perfect storm of factors contributing to record activity in the sector. With some of the uncertainty associated with the pandemic now behind us, there is increased business confidence—and, along with that, dealmaking. Added to that are persistently low interest rates that continue to drive up valuations, prompting more deal activity. Finally, with private equity fundraising at an all-time high, private equity has ample dry powder to deploy on large, transformational deals. Amidst the frenetic activity, several trends have emerged or accelerated in the private equity space over the past year.

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