Total buyout value jumped 10 per cent to $US582 billion in 2018, which capped off the strongest five-year run in private equity history, according to a new report.

Researcher Bain & Co this week released its 2019 global private equity report, noting that while “fierce competition and rising asset prices” led to a lower deal count — individual transactions fell by 13 per cent to 2,936 worldwide — there was more money in the sector than ever.

Hugh McArthur, Bain’s head of global private equity, said the industry had experienced “unprecedented success” in the past five years.

“During that span, more money has been raised, invested and distributed back to investors than in any other period in the industry’s history,” he said.

“Private investment in general, and private equity in particular, seems to be on a secular penetration curve that has no end in sight.”

McArthur pointed to several “cautionary notes”, saying private equity returns, while still strong relative to other asset classes, have slowly declined toward public market averages during the period.

He also cited persistent high prices, volatile capital markets, the US-China trade tiff, Brexit woes and the threat of recession as factors that could depress dealmaking enthusiasm in the years to come.

But, overall, McArthur remained bullish.

“We see fundamental shifts happening in capital markets that are likely to drive a long-term trend toward much larger private capital and private equity opportunities versus traditional public equity models,” he said.

“This ongoing movement will have seismic impacts for providers of capital, investors of that capital and for the companies owned by a widening variety of private models.

“It portends a future in which a much larger share of capital flows into private markets.”