Finns, Danes and Norwegians sought for Nordic PE market

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Ambitious Finns, Danes and Norwegians are being wooed by Nordic private equity firms, as PE deals and buyouts in the region have bounced back to their highest levels since the first quarter of 2008.

Latest figures from data provider Dealogic have suggested the value of Nordic buyouts jumped to $1.35bn (€1.08bn) across 24 deals in the first quarter of this year, the highest level since Q1 2008 and up 63% compared with the same period last year.

Buyouts accounted for 12% of all mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter, the highest proportion since the height of the buyout boom in early 2007, it added.

Whereas last year much of what hiring went on was simply replacement recruitment, this year there is an expansionary buzz in the market, agrees David Richardson, a consultant at Private Equity Recruitment.

"We have definitely started to see expansion, particularly in Stockholm and Oslo," he says.

"The majority of it is associate level - so banking analysts and associates are in demand - with some firms carrying out multiple hires as they look to raise new funds. There is a lot of deal activity going on, so almost everyone needs new hands on deck," he adds.

Recent major deals in the region, according to Dealogic, have included the $1.15bn (€930m) acquisition of 75% of Nordic healthcare provider Ambea from 3i Group by Triton and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and HgCapital's acquisition of Norwegian software company StepStone Solutions for $148m (€120m).

Finns, Danes and Norwegians are in demand as firms, particularly Swedish ones, look to diversify their language base, argues Richardson.

But one of the challenges is they are often looking to lure such candidates to Sweden rather than simply back to their own home capital.

"Whilst some Nordic candidates will relocate to the Swedish capital, for many their first choice is to remain in London or relocate to the capital of their own home country. This creates a limited pool of candidates," Richardson explains.

As well as good local knowledge, international experience remains a key selling point, he adds.

"A lot of firms want local knowledge or a good feel for a local market, but they also like people who are used to be sort of deal volume you might get in London or New York and who have that Anglo-Saxon investment mentality," he says.

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