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For the first time, private equity (PE) investments in India have crossed the $10-billion mark in a calendar year. And that too, with over three months still to go in 2007. The magnitude of the growth can be gauged by the fact that in 2006, the total value of PE deals announced stood at $7.86 billion.

With the PE industry on fire and with strategic mergers & acquisitions (M&A) building on the bigbudget deals struck early this year, the total value of equity deals involving Indian companies is now nudging the $60-billion mark.

For the January-August period, the total value of PE deals announced stood at $10.8 billion spread over 267 deals, according to the latest dealtracker of advisory firm Grant Thornton. PE funds have been flexing their muscles in equity transactions in the country, and even surpassed strategic M&As in the value of deals struck during June and July. In June and July, PEs totalled $4.6 billion while M&As were valued at $2.66 billion. But in August, M&As clawed back with the cumulative value of deals pegged at $3.37 billion over 62 deals compared to $1.22 billion worth of PE deals through 30 deals.

Some of the large M&As last month include JSW Steel's acquisition of three US-based steel units, Wipro's takeover of Infocrossing and Firstsource Solutions' acquisition of MedAssist Holding. The total value of strategic M&As during January-August crossed $48.4 billion through 460 deals.

Cross-border deals continue to outpace domestic M&As as in the re-cent past. There were a total of 30 domestic deals with an announced value of $660 million as against 32 cross-border deals worth $2.71 bil-lion.

The cross-border M&As in turn are being led by outbound deals i.e., deals where Indian companies are acquiring global companies. There were a total of 21 outbound deals worth $2.33 billion in August as against 11 inbound deals, cumulating to an announced value of $380 million.

Some big PE deals recorded last month include Blackstone's buyout of Gokaldas Exports and its minority stake in Nagarjuna Constructions. In addition, there were a clutch of investors acquiring minority stake in the telecom infrastructure unit of Reliance Communications apart from Apax Partner's deal for Apollo Hospitals and a group of PE funds picking stake in real estate and infrastructure management company Indu Projects.

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