Summary: This paper offers a quantitative description of European private equity markets and compares the recent development in these markets with the development of the US venture capital market. Moreover, the paper addresses the differences between private equity investors acting in a single national market by analysing micro data on French and German private equity investors. European markets for private equity have experienced substantial growth at the end of the 1990s and so has the US venture capital market. However, in Europe, private equity investments in enterprises' early and expansion stages as well as in high-technology enterprises are, relative to GDP, significantly lower than in the US.

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