Unveiling the Top Largest Deals in History in the Realm of Private Equity

Chris Gilbert
5 min readMay 17, 2023

The evolution of private equity has been nothing short of remarkable over the past several decades. This industry, once mainly reserved for investors and institutions, has become wider in reach due to advancements in technology and shifts in regulations. And while no one may ever break the record-breaking PE deals seen today, we’re nonetheless awed by the size and scope of these transactions.

In this article, let’s look back at some of the largest private equity deals that have taken place throughout history — these ten giants were instrumental in changing how fortunes were made (and lost!) during their respective eras.

Private equity deals

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016 for USD 26 billion

Microsoft made waves in the business world with its acquisition of LinkedIn for a staggering USD 26 billion. The deal marked a significant move for the tech giant into the social media space and signaled a renewed focus on enterprise software. While the acquisition had broad implications for the tech industry, it also had specific implications for those pursuing a private equity career.

With LinkedIn’s extensive network of professionals and diverse talent pool, the acquisition gave private equity firms an unprecedented opportunity to source top talent and expand their reach in the marketplace. As Microsoft and LinkedIn continue to integrate, the potential benefits for those pursuing a private equity career show no signs of slowing down.

Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox in 2019 for USD 71.3 billion

The Disney-Fox acquisition is considered one of the biggest deals in the history of the private equity industry. Disney purchased 21st Century Fox for a staggering USD 71.3 billion, consolidating its position as a leading media and entertainment company. The deal brought together two of the largest players in the industry, with Fox bringing its valuable film and television assets, including franchises like Avatar, the X-Men, and The Simpsons, to Disney’s already impressive portfolio. The move proves that in today’s competitive media environment, consolidation is key, and acquisition can be a powerful tool in achieving strategic growth and bolstering market share.

AT&T buying Time Warner in 2018 for USD 85 billion

In one of the largest private equity deals in history, AT&T has acquired Time Warner for a staggering $85 billion. The transaction closed in 2018, and it has significant ramifications for the media landscape and the world of private equity deal structure. Bringing together two behemoth companies, this acquisition signals a shift towards consolidation in the entertainment industry. With Time Warner’s impressive portfolio of properties, including HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros., AT&T is poised to become a dominant player in the content creation and distribution space. This deal showcases the importance of private equity as a driving force in M&A activity, and it will undoubtedly have ripple effects throughout the industry.

Private equity career

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Verizon’s takeover of Yahoo in 2017 for USD 4.5 billion

In the world of tech mergers and acquisitions, Verizon’s takeover of Yahoo for USD 4.5 billion was a major headline in 2017. This deal brought together two giants of the telecommunications and digital media industries, with Verizon acquiring Yahoo’s massive user base and online properties. With this acquisition, Verizon aimed to expand its digital media portfolio and compete more effectively with other tech giants like Google and Facebook. Despite subsequent public relations issues and controversies surrounding Yahoo’s security breaches, the acquisition has continued to shape the digital media landscape and remains an important part of Verizon’s corporate strategy.

Vodafone’s takeover of Mannesmann AG in 2000 for USD 180 billion

In 2000, telecommunications giant Vodafone made headlines with its USD 180 billion takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann AG, marking it as one of the largest corporate deals in history. The acquisition allowed Vodafone to expand its reach into Europe and establish itself as a major player in the global mobile telecommunications industry. While the move was met with some controversy and opposition from shareholders, Vodafone’s persistence and strategic planning ultimately paid off. The deal helped propel Vodafone’s growth for years to come and solidified its position in the industry.

Dell’s acquisition of EMC Corporation in 2015 for USD 67 billion

In 2015, Dell made an unprecedented move by acquiring EMC Corporation for a staggering $67 billion. This moves solidified Dell as a major player in the technology industry and marked the largest technology acquisition in history. Private equity deals have become increasingly common in recent years, but the scale and impact of this acquisition cannot be overstated. By combining the strengths of both companies, Dell has been able to expand its offerings and better serve its customers. This acquisition has also contributed to the trend of consolidation within the technology industry, highlighting the importance of strategic partnerships and acquisitions in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

End Notes

So, it’s clear that in the past two decades, technology and telecommunications companies have spent billions to acquire media and digital assets. The idea behind such deals is often to gain access to new markets and customers, or to gain control over coveted assets. For those who followed these acquisitions carefully and invested selectively in the right acquisitions, big rewards can come. But this strategy also carries risks. Many high-profile mergers fail, leaving companies worse off than they were before. While acquisitions can be useful tools for creating value and achieving growth objectives, they also require thoughtful analysis and a willingness to take risks. Ultimately, companies need to weigh both the potential benefits and drawbacks of an acquisition before moving forward.

Source: https://havily.com/record-breaking-private-equity-deals-top-largest-deals-in-history/

📫 Other Stories on Private Equity:

  1. https://wire.insiderfinance.io/challenges-faced-by-private-equity-firms-in-2023-d09eda7a1171
  2. https://wire.insiderfinance.io/how-has-artificial-intelligence-affected-the-private-equity-industry-4c905a22605f
  3. https://wire.insiderfinance.io/top-tips-for-investing-in-private-equity-deals-4c2d3140d906
  4. https://chris-gilbertt111.medium.com/what-exit-options-are-available-to-private-equity-investors-25911c1838d4

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