Private equity deals are at pre-crisis levels, despite slow fund-raising in the fourth quarter, according to Prequin.
The alternatives research house says exits from private equity investments increased to $71.8 billion (£46.2 billion) in the fourth quarter, the highest figure on record.
However, purchases totalled just $64.2 billion, indicating a net reduction in investments in the sector.
Prequin said fundraising also dropped back to 2004 levels during the last half of last year.
In total, private equity exited 811 investments worth $203 billion in 2010, almost three times the exits in 2009. (article continues below)
Almost half of all private equity purchases last year were leveraged buyouts, but without any of the mega-cap deals that caused the sector to become notorious in 2007.
The average deal in the second half of last year was worth a little more than $100m. The largest purchase was Del Monte Foods, with a price tag of $5.3 billion.