Foreign investors drive jump in Brazil buyouts last year

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 14 Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:49pm EDT

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 14 (Reuters) - Foreign institutional investors helped propel a 38.4 percent surge in private equity-funded acquisitions in Brazil last year, an industry group survey showed on Monday, highlighting the industry's ability to bankroll purchases in the renewable energy, infrastructure and information technology sectors.

Investment by private equity and venture capital funds rose to 18 billion reais ($8.1 billion) in 2013, compared with 13 billion reais in the prior year, according to data by KPMG and industry group ABVCAP. There were a total 186 takeovers, valued a little below 100 million reais each.

For the first time in at least three years, non-resident investors such as foreign pension and investment funds, were the biggest source of funding for those takeovers, with a 55 percent participation rate, the KPMG/ABVCAP survey showed. The total capital committed by the private equity and venture capital industry in Brazil rose to 100.2 billion reais at the end of December.

While fundraising fell almost 13 percent last year to 17.1 billion reais, most buyout firms refocused on investing their money. Rather than underscoring a change in appetite to commit capital to Brazil, the decrease in fundraising signals that private equity activity in the region is deepening and, more importantly, maturing.

"Foreigners remain confident in the Brazilian economy," said Luiz Eugenio Figueiredo, a senior vice president for ABVCAP, at the group's annual summit in Rio de Janeiro. "Sectors like, for instance, infrastructure attracted buyers and investments because of the perception that the country has relevant needs in that area."

Yet, industry executives such as Cate Ambrose of the Latin American Private Equity and Venture Capital Association have highlighted the need for more investment exits as a way to balance risks and returns in Brazil.

Exits, when buyout firms cash in gains in the companies, raised 5.7 billion reais in 77 deals last year, driven by robust acquisitions by strategic investors, the survey showed. In 2012, the value of exits had been close to 6 billion reais.

($1 = 2.21 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Luciana Bruno; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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