Private equity-backed acquisitions totalled just $189.8 billion worldwide in 2008, a 71 percent drop from 2007, according to data provider Dealogic.
The three boom months prior to the beginning of the credit crunch in August 2007 saw around $300 billion in private equity-backed transactions: the same amount as in the entire 17 months since.
As credit markets and general economic conditions worsened throughout the year, 53 announced private equity deals were pulled with a total value of $132.2 billion, around 41 percent of all announced deals. This compares to around 26 percent of deals in 2007.
What would have been the largest buyout on record, the proposed $48.5 billion buyout of BCE, fell through in December.
In terms of exit routes for financial sponsors, trade sales further increased in importance, accounting for 64 percent of exits, up from 45 percent in the preceding two years.
The IPO market all but disappeared. Exits achieved via the equity capital markets totalled just $9 billion globally: the lowest volume since 2001.
Deal volumes all but ground to a halt in the final quarter of 2008.