Finance: the sexy department

16 Oct 2014

A lot of people sneer at accountants. Without wanting to rehearse the tired clichés, words like boring, grey and conservative tend to spring to most people’s minds. (Even when the profession is being targeted for its involvement in history's greatest atrocities.) And we say: those people are stupid. The news over the past few weeks should be ample demonstration that far from…

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In the spotlight

16 Sep 2014

Two big advantages of running a private equity (PE) backed business have traditionally been privacy (mending companies is hard when you have the public spotlight on you); and expertise (smart, engaged investors are better than public shareholders or even family members and ensuring the business was heading in the right direction). They’re both worth seeking out, of course, but are they…

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Canary in a gilded cage. (In a coal mine)

21 Jul 2014

Summer: a time to take stock; to recharge; to reflect on the year to date. And this year, it feels like we’re in a period of calm before the storm - both literally and metaphorically if you live in the UK. At the macroeconomic level, things ought to be rosy. Growth has returned to many major economies - not least the UK.…

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Buddy, can you spare a dime?

5 Jun 2014

Finance execs in private equity backed businesses usually have a positive take on debt. First, they say, it’s a great simplifier: the required return is right there in the coupon or interest rate. There’s no family member to grouch about dividends or head-scratching about whether to re-invest - that interest is out the door. Second, they say, it focuses the mind. It makes…

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Reading the tides

7 Apr 2014

It’s one of the great truisms of private equity ownership (especially over the past six or so years) that operational improvement sits at the heart of the model. Yes, in the mega leveraged buyout space, financial engineering still plays a massive part. (And still comes crashing down to earth: witness the debacle at Energy Future Holdings - formerly TXU Corp -…

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All change please

7 Feb 2014

The first quarter: a time for reflection, looking (Janus-like) back at the lessons from last year and forward to what’s next. And what’s next looks like it might be quite exciting. Even the dour International Monetary Fund thinks UK growth will hit 2.4% this year, ahead of all our major European rivals and even beating the “B” in BRICS, Brazil. There…

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“It’s hugely empowering to be in an agile business”

29 Nov 2013

Like many FDs, Colman Stephenson got frustrated by the politics and inertia of a big corporation. So he learned what he could from the experience – then joined a hot tech business that’s revolutionising sports media.Stephenson never intended to join a huge tech giant like Yahoo! After putting his degrees (theatre studies and arts management) to good use in the payroll…

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Party like it’s 2007

26 Nov 2013

A few years ago, private equity (PE) firms and their portfolio company finance teams shared one big fear: refinancing. That fear was partly down to the sheer weight of debt leverage that had come into the environment during the boom years - which, at an average of 5 year terms, would need to be refinanced just as the banks were going…

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Entrepreneurial FDs

24 Oct 2013

If we didn't see you yesterday, where were you? Us? Well, we were all at the second annual Entrepreneurial FD conference in Grosvenor Square - and quite apart from the great panel sessions, keynote interviews and practical guidance, the day was an outstanding opportunity for FDs to network with each other, with private equity people... and all of us from equityFD…

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PE managers: GPs, not nannies

16 Sep 2013

The worst is over! With growth returning to major world economies, unemployment in check and an imminent burst of M&A activity, everything in the garden is rosy. Well kind of. While a lot depends on how you spin it (growth is slow; systemic risks are high; governments are still addicted to deficits; actual M&A deals are defying positive sentiment), for private…

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