European deals jump 89% in record-breaking year

High levels of M&A activity in the fourth quarter helped drive 2021 deal volumes to almost double the number recorded in 2020.

European private debt deal volumes surged in the second half of 2021 to reach a record of 785 transactions, according to data from Deloitte.

The latest figures from Deloitte’s Alternative Lender Deal Tracker show there were 217 deals in the final quarter of 2021, only slightly lower than the record high of 226 seen in Q3 2021 and the second most active quarter since it began tracking private debt deals in 2012.


Deal numbers in 2021 were up by a massive 89 percent on 2020, which was a challenging year for the industry as it adapted to dealing with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. However, activity last year was also 51 percent above the previous record year of 2019.

European private debt deals have seen increasing concentration in safer sectors such as telecoms, healthcare and business services, which made up 62 percent of all deals, up from 61 percent in 2020 and 56 percent in 2019.

While the UK remains the most active market in Europe for private debt, deal numbers declined from 73 in Q3 down to 66 in Q4. France, historically the second most active European territory, saw deal numbers fall from 50 to 33 in the same period.

However, Germany saw a record-breaking quarter for activity with 41 deals in Q4, up from its previous record of 32 in Q3 2021. While Germany was relatively late to adopt private debt, the product has seen rapid growth in recent years as corporates and sponsors have become increasingly familiar with private credit.

The rest of Europe also saw a record 78 deals in the final quarter, up from 71 in Q3 2021. The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden were the most active among Europe’s smaller markets, with each posting double digit deal numbers in the fourth quarter.