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A sign for the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Private equity firms stirred from a nearly year-long slumber in August, booking the busiest month since last October for acquisitions.

Carlyle Group was the main reason, unveiling two transactions that accounted for almost a quarter of the $35-billion (U.S.) of private-equity backed takeovers in the month, according to figures from Thomson Reuters.

Carlyle plans the acquisition of a coatings business from DuPont for $4.9-billion (topping, incidentally, a bid involving Canada's Onex Corp.) and is set to buy Getty Images for $3.3-billion.

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The result was private equity deals accounted for 20 per cent of all mergers and acquisitions in August, the biggest share of the deals market all year.

Still, it's a share of a smaller pie. Global merger transactions are down 18 per cent so far this year, compared to last year.

Where is private equity buying? High technology companies and power producers. Industrials and media companies are close behind. Those four sectors combined account for half of all private-equity backed purchases this year, according to Thomson Reuters.

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