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Private equity giant KKR says valuations around the world still 'quite high' despite market sell-off

Key Points
  • The global private equity giant KKR has told CNBC that asset valuations remain "quite high."
  • KKR's total global assets under management reached $195 billion in the third quarter of 2018.
KKR‘s Huth: Continue to be a little cautious on Italy

The global private equity giant KKR has said that despite the recent market sell-off, valuations around the world still look high.

This week the firm announced that its total global assets under management reached $195 billion in the third quarter of 2018, up 27 percent on the same period last year.

Despite that leap in investable funds, Johannes P. Huth, head of EMEA at KKR, told CNBC that although there have been some recent adjustments in the market, valuations are not particularly attractive.

"If you look at it from a historical perspective, valuations are still quite high. It depends on where you look in the world, it is different in the emerging markets, but I would say overall we are a little bit cautious in terms of valuations, certainly in Europe and the United States," Huth told CNBC's Annette Weisbach in Frankfurt on Friday.

Earlier this week, Fiat Chrysler agreed to sell its Magneti car parts unit to Calsonic Kansei, a rival parts maker owned by private equity firm KKR. The deal, worth more than 6 billion euros gives KKR a significant investment in Italy.

Huth said despite that "very large investment", for the most part valuations in Italy have not come down to a level that reflect the current political risk.

The investor said he would continue to pursue assets in Germany and that France was staring to look more attractive, claiming that economic reforms instigated by President Emmanuel Macron would start to bear fruit "within two to five years."

In terms of the European macro environment Huth claimed there were reasons to be optimistic about growth but conceded that the effect of the U.K's departure from the European Union remained hard to quantify.

Huth said KKR and the companies it invests in are currently trying to work out how to distribute products throughout Europe, if a firm remains headquartered in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

"We don't really know what form it is going to take and how it is going to be implemented," he said before adding, "really what we are looking for is certainty and right now, we don't have that."

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 608.01 points, erasing all of its gains for the year. The dropped 3.1 and also turned negative for the year. The Nasdaq fell 4.4 percent, entering correction territory.

Stocks recovered ground Thursday but following some worse than expected quarterly results from the likes of Alphabet and Amazon, the bias to selling has resumed.