Private equity funds took in $246 billion in 2009, the smallest annual total since 2004 and a 61% decline from last year, according to alternative industry data provider Preqin (formerly known as Private Equity Intelligence).

The money was raised by 462 funds, and 40% of investors surveyed by Preqin did not make any allocation to private equity in 2008.

North America copped the bulk of the money, attracting $145 billion. Funds focusing on Europe raised $74 billion, and bringing up the rear was Asia and the rest of the world, with $27 billion.

By fund type, buyout firms raised the most ($102 billion), followed by $27 billion for venture capital firms and real estate funds with $7 billion.

The biggest success of the year was CVC (winner of AsianInvestor's Best Private Equity House award in 2007), whose CVC European Equity Partners V closed in 2009 with €10.75 billion in commitments.

In the February edition of AsianInvestor, we will publish an overview of the illiquid alternatives investment sector.