Category Archives: Business
Larmer Tree gardens, Wiltshire, at their most beautiful in June. Definitely worth a visit.
Laura Linney luminous in My Name is Lucy Barton at The Bridge in Rona Munro’s superb adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel.
Recently, I attended a Green Demo Day hosted by Capital List and the London Co-Investment Fund and saw 12 young technology companies make their investment pitches. It was a fascinating morning – from online literacy aids to smart orthopaedic devices – which I wrote up on Linked In.
The Acquirer, the magazine of the long-established corporate finance firm Livingstone Partners, celebrates its 25th birthday. Having been its editorial director for nearly ten years, I was asked to contribute an article to this special edition. Here it is.
“In the early 1990s, publishing a newsletter was a real labour of love – and a particularly bold one when it was about M&A in the depths of a recession. The first edition noted that many UK companies had “lost their appetite for acquisitions for the time being”.
“Fortunately, The Acquirer didn’t lose its appetite for publication. For 25 years, it has been a rich source of insight for business owners about buying and selling companies. Its focus has always been on transactions and the people who make them happen, but its pages provide a fascinating insight into economic and market changes, as well as the story of how one firm has grown and developed.
“Cross-border transactions were there from the start. In its first edition, The Acquirer reported on the sale of family-owned board and paper merchant Hedsorboard to the Finnish group Metsa-Serla.
“Bold and famous transactions have featured. The MBO of Gardner Merchant in 1992 was one of the signature transactions of the decade. So too were the buy-outs that ensured the successful transition of ownership for two marketing industry icons – Wolff Olins and MORI.
“Flick through the back issues and you will see future giants of the FTSE100 (such as Sage), well-known brands (Topps Tiles) and high-profile entrepreneurs (Luke Johnson) making early appearances. There’s the initial Anglo-French merger that was to create digital products giant PhotoBox. Notable corporate names – IMI, Meggitt, Tilney, Polypipe, Honeywell – crop up regularly as testament to an enduring advisory relationship.
“The pages of The Acquirer also track the emergence of private equity from being “new kids on the block” in the 1990s to being the first-choice exit route for many owner-managers. (It’s worth noting that The Acquirer called the market in 2006: “Sell, sell, sell,” it urged company owners.)
“Its content plots the changes in the business landscape, too; the original editor of the 1990s might not have predicted Livingstone working on transactions featuring luxury spas, online travel (what’s that?), cybersecurity and satellite- based ship monitoring. It also charts the way that owner-managers have become more sophisticated consumers of advisory services; the homespun advice of early editions quickly gives way to an emphasis on detailed sector insight and genuine international reach.
“The Acquirer of 2015 is a very different publication to the four-pager of the 1990s. It features roundtable discussions led by the Lord Mayor of London and articles written by FT journalists. Yet at its heart is sound professional advice, given in an easy and accessible style by people who care passionately about delivering results and have built a successful business themselves – and that has never changed.”
My latest article for Huffington Post is about British companies that have been growing their international business very quickly. Liquid goats’ milk to China. Non-reclining seats for low-cost airlines. Sniper rifles and clever scanners. We’re selling them all. The article has also been posted by BT Business and on Linked In.
Prasanna Puwanarajah’s superb performance as the Prosecutor in Dara at The Lyttleton: “A lengthy courtroom scene, in which Dara is tried for apostasy by a sharia court, is electrifying” (Telegraph review)
Andy de la Tour’s equally superb performance as Spijak the tailor in The Cutting of the Cloth at The Southwark Playhouse: “Andy de la Tour excellently catches Spijak’s mixture of bullying ferocity and lyrical passion for a perfectly finished jacket” (Guardian review). We took our own tame tailor: Andrew Ramroop.
Bodice-ripping, breeches-rippling Poldark on a Sunday night: “Aidan Turner’s lusty Ross causes tremors across the Cornish coastline” (Independent review).