About private equity

How private equity invests in privately-owned businesses, supports jobs and creates prosperity.


Login to access your exclusive member-only content and account information.


Not a member? Join us

  • Operate to the highest level of professional standards
  • Access authoritative industry research and data
  • Navigate the complex EU regulatory environment
  • Network and engage with industry leaders

Divestment data analysis


2018 Key Findings

Exit types (e.g. Trade sale, IPO, Write off) are reported by the number of companies divested and their equity amount at cost by stage, sector and geography. Divestment amounts at cost reflect the equity initially invested but do not show any profit on the investment.

3,750 European companies were exited in 2018

A 3% decrease on the previous year. By amount of former equity investment (divestment at cost), the total value was €32bn, a year-on-year decrease of 28%. The most prominent exit routes by amount at cost were trade sale (32%), sale to another private equity firm (31%) and public offering (10%).

Buyout divestments

Buyout divestments represented 70% by amount at cost and 23% of exits by number of companies. They decreased 34% by amount to €22.4bn and 12% by number of companies to 863. The decline was due to falls in activity across the three main exit routes: trade sale, sale to another private equity firm and public offering. Most companies that were exited operated in the business products and services sector, followed by consumer goods and services, and ICT.

Venture divestments

Venture divestments represented 6% by amount at cost and 32% by number of companies. They decreased 5% by amount at cost to €2bn, while 1,193 companies were exited, a 1% decline. Trade sale was the most prominent exit route accounting for 35% by amount at cost, despite an 8% year-on-year decrease. Public offerings rose 39% to a ten-year high, representing a 22% share of amount at cost. Most companies exited operated in the ICT sector, followed by biotech and healthcare, and business products and services.

Growth divestments

Growth divestments represented 18% of all exits by amount at cost and 42% by number of companies. They decreased 15% by amount to €5.8bn and 2% by number of companies to 1,571. The main exit routes were trade sale and sale to another private equity firm. Most companies exited operated in the business products and services sector, followed by consumer goods and services, and ICT.

Write-offs recorded their lowest level in ten years by amount and number of companies divested.

2018 divestments at a glance

2018 - Market statistics All private equity Venture capital(1) Buyout(1) Growth(1)
Divestments - Amount €32.0bn €2.0bn €22.4bn €5.8bn
Divestments - No. of companies 3,750 1,193 863 1,571
No. of firms 756 344 354 303
No. of funds 1,899 772 645 881

Source: Invest Europe/EDC

Note: (1) relates to the investment stage of the portfolio company.

In this section
Meet the team


Julien Krantz Image

Julien Krantz


Research Director

Daniel Irwin-Brown Image

Daniel Irwin-Brown


Research Manager

Ariane Mortelmans Image

Ariane Mortelmans


Research Officer


What can I do to manage cookies stored on my computer or phone?

You can accept or refuse cookies. Accepting cookies is usually the best way to make sure you get the best from a website.

Most PCs automatically accept them but you can change your browser settings to restrict, block or delete cookies if you want. Each browser is different, so check the 'Help' menu of your particular browser (or your mobile phone's handset manual) to learn how to change your cookie preferences. Many browsers have universal privacy settings for you to choose from.

Help on how to set and customise your cookie settings for your browser

How to manage cookies in Internet Explorer

Cookie settings in most versions of Internet Explorer can be found by clicking the tools option and then the privacy tab.

How to manage cookies in Firefox

Cookie settings in Firefox are managed in the Options window's Privacy panel. See Options window - Privacy Panel for information on these settings.

How to manage cookies in Chrome

Click on the spanner icon on the toolbar, select settings, click the under the bonnet tab, click on content settings in the privacy section.

How to manage cookies in Opera 

You can manage cookies in Opera if you Click on settings, then Preferences, then Advanced and finally Cookies

How to manage cookies in Safari

Choose Safari, then preferences and then click security. You should then be able to specify if and when Safari should accept cookies.

To manage cookies on your mobile phone please consult your manual or handbook.

Get more help about how cookies work with specific browsers.

What happens if I don't accept cookies?

If you decline cookies, some aspects of Invest Europe site may not work on your computer or mobile phone and you may not be able to access areas you want on the website. For this reason we recommend that you accept cookies.

What happens if I delete my cookies?

If you delete all your cookies you will have to update your preferences with us again and some aspects of our site may not work.

What happens if I change computers or mobile?

If you use a different device, computer profile or browser you will have to tell us your preferences again.

If you'd like to learn more about cookies in general and how to manage them, visit aboutcookies.org.

We can't be responsible for the content of external websites.

Opt-out of cookies


Join today

This is for members only. To view in full login or join Invest Europe today.