The Leading European Private Equity Funds

Our European Private Equity Top 5 Map illustrates the 5 largest funds in 6 respective European regions, along with the largest US funds dedicated for European investments. We have focused on reporting the latest private equity buyout fund size, not taking total AUM into account. Funds are placed where their main investment focus is instead of their official headquarters (compare Investindustrial or Triton Partners).

10 out of the 20 largest funds are investing out of the United Kingdom, where the top 5 players have a combined fund value of €43.5bn. The region’s largest fund, Permira’s flagship buyout fund “Permira VII”, was raised in less than a year in 2019 and amounts to €11.0bn.

The European private equity firm with the largest fund size remains CVC Capital Partners headquartered in Luxembourg having raised €16.4bn for its Fund VII in 2017. News from March 2020 stated that CVC was seeking to raise a €20bn-sized fund, Fund VIII, which would then surpass Fund VII as the largest-ever European fund raised.

In recent news, Northern-European IK Investment Partners moved up the Nordic Top 5 to a third position with its ninth mid-cap fund raising €2.85bn earlier last month (May 2020). EQT and Nordic Capital both have secured their spots in the Top 20 Table, with EQT being the third largest fund in Europe and Nordic holding 14th place. What might seem surprising to some is that there are only two PEs from the DACH region in the Top 20 table, given that Germany in particular is known for its large amount of privately held assets. The two firms are Triton operating out of their Frankfurt office, and Partners Group from Zug in Switzerland, holding the 10th and 13th place respectively.

Top 20 European Private Equity Funds (Latest Buyout Fund Size)

Source: Own visualisation by ESCP Finance Society, Private Equity Division

*Terra Firma: The TFCP III fund (€5.4bn) was closed in 2007. The firm is planning to raise a new fund in 2020 with capital of c.€2.7bn.

Two of the most notorious PEs of French heritage, Ardian and PAI Partners, are also present in the Top 20 table. PAI Partners, one of Europe’s oldest PEs dating back to its role as the principal investment activity branch ‘Paribas Affaires Industrielles’ of Paribas, is currently investing out of the 11th largest European fund, PAI Europe VII from 2018 (€5.1bn). Ardian, who since its spin-off from AXA in 2013 has increased total AUM by 2.6 times to €96bn, holds a 7th position in the league table.

The oldest funds in Europe are Charterhouse Capital (1934) and the 3i Group (1945). The latter also being in the top 20 at the 12th position. However, 3i decided during the last funding round to stop collecting fresh capital for a new fund and is investing from its balance sheet ever since.

Authors: Nikolas Schmitte and Erik Tromp Steineger


  • Reuters Database
  • Capital IQ Database
  • Corresponding Company websites

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