European companies raise £4.4bn of venture capital in first three months

Strongest-ever first quarter sees €5.1bn in VC funding ploughed into 339 deals - a 76pc rise year on year

European companies raised €5.1bn (£4.4bn) of venture capital funding during the first three months of 2019, an increase of 76pc year-on-year; the strongest-ever first quarter ever recorded.

Despite the record-breaking venture-capital funding, only 339 European venture capital deals were completed in the first quarter — down 4pc from Q1 2018 and marked the slowest start to a year since 2008, according to data company Refinitiv.

London-based OneWeb raised the most venture capital in Q1, with investors SoftBank Investment Advisers, Qualcomm Technologies and Grupo Salinas ploughing €1.1bn into the satellite internet company.

German fintech N26 had the second-largest fund raise at €259.9m, backed by Insight Venture Partners, GIC, Allianz X and Earlybird Venture Capital.

French digital healthcare company Doctolib was in third place, raising €150m through General Atlantic, Accel, Bpifrance, Eurazeo and Kernel.

The only other UK company in the top 10 was challenger bank Starling, which raised €85.5m through Merian Global Investors.

Private equity deals

European companies saw buyout and related deal values of €18.8bn in Q1, down 12pc from the same period last year and 1pc from the same period in 2017.

However, 326 buyout and related private-equity deals were completed during the first three months of 2019, a rise of 53pc year on year despite the drop in deal values.

German internet content company Scout24 was the biggest European private-equity deal, with Blackstone Group and Hellman & Friedman investing €4.9bn between them.

London-based satellite broadband firm Inmarsat was the second-biggest PE buyout at €3bn backed by a consortium of investors inclduing Apax Partners, Warburg Pincus, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Other UK companies that closed PE deals were IT solutions provider Daisy Group (€1.2bn), food company WSH Investments (€868.6m) and the plastics division of DS Smith (€518m).

Last month CB Insights revealed that venture capitalists invested $645m (£497m) in UK fintech in the first three months of 2019 alone across 42 deals – a rise of 2.2pc year on year – cementing Britain as the top fintech market in Europe.

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