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Blog

19.11.2021  // First Mover Advantage

In the aftermath of Cop26, all media channels seem to have been awash with companies advertising their sustainability credentials. Full page ads in our newspapers, campaigns across the TV multiplex, billboards nationwide and digital channels all evidence of the “greenwashing” we are being exposed to. Whilst this may just be virtue signalling by ‘Corporate Britain’, it evidences a battle for the hearts and minds of the ‘Ethical Consumer’.

16.11.2021  // Up or out

During my history studies at university, I was encouraged to look for patterns in past events and to doubt that there were coincidences. Now 25 years on, and as a private equity investor, I was fascinated by last week’s news from corporates in Asia, the USA and the UK of a hat-trick of corporate carve-outs and another of corporate break-ups:

09.11.2021  // From isolation to rejuvenation

Everyone has experienced periods of isolation. Whether as a child (when we were sent to our room to reflect on a misdemeanour), as a teenager (when we sought privacy and personal space) or as an adult in both our professional and personal lives. Some periods of isolation are sought out for personal growth or to overcome a difficulty, whilst other periods of isolation are unwanted and arise from circumstance, loneliness or health problems. Whether isolation is something that is welcome or unwelcome, it can be a force for good and I believe a source of personal rejuvenation.

03.11.2021  // All Grown Up

When I was young, I yearned to grow up fast and there was a real fascination with what older kids were doing. It often looked like getting older was fun, bringing new and exciting opportunities and rewards. I remember well my teenage years and the excitement of progressively being able to learn to drive, vote in elections and leave home for good!

25.10.2021  // Earth Song

With the UN Climate Change Conference due to take place in Glasgow next week, it is the perfect time to reflect on the significance of this important event.

 

18.10.2021  // The Greatest Showman

The market for IPOs (initial public offerings) has long captured the public imagination. Many business owners aspire to float their companies perceiving a flotation to be like achieving a “gold standard” with the term PLC acting as a passport to open new doors. Meanwhile there are company directors who similarly view the apex of their careers to be ringing the bell at the London Stock Exchange as the company they run goes public. However, closer scrutiny of the IPO market reveals some concerning features:

14.10.2021  // Bank of Mum and Dad

As the effects of the pandemic have started to recede, we have experienced a series of significant product supply and demand imbalances. As with the aftershocks that follow an earthquake, it is no surprise that there are businesses feeling the effects of being out of equilibrium. In the last few weeks, we have had carbon dioxide supply issues, labour shortages and gas price volatility making headlines. This has created very real fears of petrol, food and consumer goods shortages. On an almost daily basis, entire industries are being portrayed as vulnerable to collapse like a row of dominos. Our energy suppliers, food manufacturers, petrol forecourts and more recently our steel, chemical and ceramics markets have all been identified as in need of support.

04.10.2021  // After The Flood

Many of us have rationalised the Covid-19 pandemic to a war that has been fought. There are so many parallels with a “front line” to protect the vulnerable through curtailment of liberties for the “greater good” and daily news reporting of the impact this terrible virus has inflicted. As the vaccine has seen many politicians declare victory over the pandemic and as our lives have begun to return to normal, there are many after effects that are all too predictable.

27.08.2021  // New Name, New Start

A change of brand is a key event for many businesses after executing a corporate carve-out. Whilst it may often be desirable to retain a legacy brand for years to come, this is not always possible. A corporate seller typically, and not unreasonably, requires a buyer to commit to change a shared brand of the acquired business within a fixed period of time. There are many good reasons for this:

18.08.2021  // Bitter Sweet 

During my earlier years in corporate finance, I often had a bitter sweet feeling after a deal completion. It was hugely satisfying to secure an outcome for a client but it also marked the start of a new journey for the business and its management team that I wasn’t part of. Upon moving into private equity this was something I hoped would change with a new investment marking the start of a journey rather than the end of it. With this week’s announcement that we’ve agreed the sale of Office Depot Europe to Raja Group, I can confirm that my hopes have been realised as this exit feels really sweet. 

21.07.2021  // Cry Freedom

With the arrival of “Freedom Day” on 19 July, I have had cause to reflect on what it really means to be free and what changes it will really bring given that “with freedom comes responsibility” (according to Eleanor Roosevelt).

There has been much rhetoric that the final stage in the UK Government’s release from Covid-19 restrictions in England would be a point of no return. We can finally cast off two metres’ social distancing, face masks, WFH would revert to “work from office”, and we would enjoy unrestricted access to restaurants, retailers and leisure facilities, with travel limitations markedly eased. However, my early experience of this new freedom is that it has not heralded much change at all. We have become normalised to keeping our distance and wearing masks, there are not exactly queues round the block to enter venues and travel is arguably more confusing to undertake than ever before!

09.07.2021  // Hostility in Plc takeovers

It’s been hard to ignore the many column inches written about the proposed private equity takeover of Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (better known as Morrisons). The narrative being trumpeted is that grocers in post Covid Britain are strategic assets that belong to the people, and overseas private equity has no right to take over these businesses.

03.06.2021  // The “Take Private” debate

After the initial lockdown period subsided, private equity groups began to survey the scale of portfolio damage and reassess their investment priorities in a post-Covid world. Whilst this particular pandemic was a “first”, the scale of economic impact was reminiscent of previous crises. This encouraged investors not to take fright but to hunt high and low for value resulting in a quite a remarkable wave of deal activity over the last 12 months. 

05.05.2021  // First 100 days

Last month marked President Biden’s first 100 days in office. 

20.04.2021  // Fund times

After more than 20 years spent around the Private Equity industry as a student, adviser, lender and now investor, it has been a unique experience for me to finally be a fundraiser. 

12.04.2021  // A time to plant

The recent passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in his 100th year has trended across the world. Many will take time to come to terms with the loss of Queen Elizabeth II’s consort. Whilst others will reflect on the generational shift in the leadership of Britain’s first family and the impact it will have on this important institution.

25.03.2021  // Tough love

As we mark the first anniversary since the start of the global pandemic it felt timely to reflect on the financial measures taken by the UK government to steer the economy through this difficult storm.

15.03.2021  // One year on

It is poignant on the anniversary of an event to look back and reflect.

02.03.2021  // “Here Comes the Sun”

This past week I have felt a renewed sense of optimism and anticipation for the future. This is no doubt a result of the rapid progress of the UK vaccination programme, the announcement of the long awaited ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, and the unseasonably warm weather has also played its part.

16.02.2021  // “Buy British”

Many of us who have closely observed the corporate finance market over recent years will have taken pride from the almost constant takeover demand there seems to be for UK companies.