from the May 2012 issue

Just $115 million in private equity deals in Q1 2012

The following are the findings of the IVC-GKH Quarterly Private Equity (PE) Survey conducted by IVC Research Center, which for more than 15 years has been at the forefront of private equity, high-tech, start-ups and venture capital research in Israel. The Survey is sponsored by Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co. (GKH), a leading Israeli corporate law firm specializing in M&A, joint ventures, venture capital, equity and debt financing. The Survey reviews Israeli private equity deals involving Israeli and foreign PE funds and other investors - both Israeli and foreign. The current Survey is based on the activity of 70 private equity funds of which 30 are Israeli and 40 are foreign.

Q1 2012 was the weakest quarterly period for Israeli private equity deals in two years with only eight private equity deals, compared to a quarterly average of 16 deals in 2011. Total deal value was only $115 million, 91 percent below the $1.21 billion (16 deals) of Q4 2011 and 83 percent below the $670 million (17 deals) of Q1 2011 (Figure 1). Two large deals, each above $20 million, accounted for $85 million or 74 percent of the total amount. The average deal in Q1 2012 was $14 million, compared to $76 million and $39 million in Q4 and Q1 2011, respectively.

In Q1 2012 private equity deals valued at over $50 million accounted for 12 percent of the total number of deals, compared to 25 percent in Q4 2011 and 29 percent in Q1 2011. Deals valued at $20-50 million accounted for 12 percent as well, compared to 19 and 6 percent in Q4 and Q1 2011, respectively. Deals valued at under $20 million accounted for the remaining 76 percent, compared with 56 percent in Q4 2011 and 65 percent in the year-earlier period.

In Q1 2012, Israeli private equity funds accounted for 23 percent of total private equity activity with $27 million invested, compared to 22 percent in Q4 2011 and 28 percent in Q1 2011. The largest Israeli private equity fund deal was a $14 million straight equity investment by Manof Origo in REIT 1, a real estate investment company. The transaction accounted for 52 percent of Israeli PE fund activity.

Rick Mann, Managing Partner of GKH, explained: "We are experiencing a slowdown in the pace of private equity activity, although we are still seeing interest by private equity funds. Private equity funds appear to be adopting a more cautious approach, one that takes longer to reach fruition. We are not yet seeing significant private equity transactions driven by the recommendations of the Committee on Concentration in the Economy. Yet, we do expect private equity investment opportunities to develop if the recommendations are adopted in their current form." Marianna Shapira, Research Manager at IVC, observed, "The Israeli private equity market is known to be volatile. As we have seen in the past, a few large deals usually account for the lion's share of transactions. However, atypically, in this year's first quarter, no large deals were made. We do expect the market to demonstrate greater activity as the year progresses reflecting new deals that are in the works."

Israeli private equity deals by sector
In Q1 2012, Internet transactions (for the first time in two years) accounted for the largest share - 45 percent - of total deal value. This distinction mostly reflected the $52 million buyout of Conduit, an Internet applications company, by foreign private equity investor W Capital Partners. The financial sector followed with 29 percent of deal value and the real estate sector accounted for 12 percent, based on Manof Origo's investment in REIT 1, cited above. The three sectors accounted for 86 percent of total deal value in the quarter.

Israeli private equity deals by type
This survey reviewed the following types of private equity financing deals: straight equity, buyouts, mezzanine, distressed debt and turnaround/distressed equity.

In Q1 2012, four buyouts accounted for $90 million or 78 percent of aggregate deal value. This compares to six buyout deals that attracted $950 million (78 percent) in Q4 2011 and five deals valued at $326 million (49 percent) in the year-earlier period. Two straight equity deals followed with $15 million or 13 percent of total deal value in Q1 2012, while two mezzanine deals accounted for the remaining nine percent of total deal value in the quarter.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report May 2012

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