Private equity crucial for entry into family businesses

It is increasingly common that “family businesses” access the market for raise capital necessary for their organic (dimensional) or international growth and which, to do so, open capital to professional investors, for example private equity funds. In this case we speak of “liquidity event“, increasingly frequent in Italy, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, which have more difficulty accessing market financing channels other than the banking channel.

In this regard, a research carried out by Pictet Wealth Management in collaboration with the School of Management of the Polytechnic of Milan, which covers the span of a decade, indicates that professional investors have a crucial role in the sale of “family” businesses and offer guarantees of the success of operations to raise “liquidity”. This is what emerges from the research.

The size of the market

In 2023 they were 274 “liquidity events” identified, down from the 365 in 2022, which are added to the 2,365 in the 2013-2022 period, for a total of 2,639 deals. The total equivalent value declared in 2023 it is 5.1 billionwhich leads to a estimate of total equivalent value (disclosed and undisclosed), equal to 15 billion in the last year alone and around 315 billion in the period 2013-2023.

In Italy, Above all, medium-sized operations have established themselves and the disappearance of the so-called megadeals, which caused the overall value of the operations carried out to decrease. Looking at the values ​​of the known operations of 2023, the the average value of the deals was in fact equal to 80.89 million, significantly lower than in the past (equal to 134.3 million), while the median value was 30 million, substantially in line with that of the 2013-2022 period, equal to 33.7 million. This demonstrates the resilience of lower value operations with targets small and medium-sized Italian family businesses.

The identikit of the companies that open capital

Focusing attention on the 63 liquidity events with a known value in 2023, these are generally unlisted companies, whose majority has between 20 and 50 years old of life. In 75% of cases these are companies controlled by one family11% from multiple families and 14% from one sole entrepreneur.

The sale concerns on average one share equal to 80.5% of the company, while neL 59% of cases the acquisition is totalitarianup from 41% in 2022.

At a territorial level, the Lombardy is reconfirmed at first placewith 20 operations (31.7% of the total), followed by Veneto and Emilia Romagna, with 11 and 7 operations respectively. An analysis sectoral highlights a strong concentration in the field manufacturing (ateco code C) which absorbs 57.1% of the sample in 2023 (36 cases).

Private equity firms make the difference

The role of funds Private Equity alongside entrepreneurs it made a difference: in 2023, in fact, private equity funds were the main investors in 37% of liquidity events of known amount (disclosed), for an invested value of 3.24 billion euros (equal to 63.6% of volumes), up compared to 2022.

The greater protagonism of the funds of private equity highlights their resilience and their increasingly central role as ideal partners to accompany the growth of Italian family businesses. More generally, also considering the undisclosed amount transactionsin 2023 private equity funds were protagonists in 74 deals, equal to 27% of the totalof which 49 led by Italian investors and 25 by foreign investors.

We can therefore say that private equity funds, both Italian and foreign, are 'regular' investors in the liquidity event market and increasingly act as crucial interlocutors for family businesses in Italy.