Thinking the worst (and doing their best)

19 Feb 2015

We’re an unforgiving bunch. People seem ever-ready to ascribe the worst possible motives to other people’s actions, while pretty much always having perfectly good excuses for their own human failings. This is particularly true in the business world. It’s perfectly possible to criticise the goings-on at Tesco, for example, without singling out any individual as the heartless beast determined to drive suppliers…

Read more

Embracing the unpredictable

12 Jan 2015

Twitter really can bring out the worst in people. No, not in the sense of encouraging them to say horrible things, or start “trolling” people. I mean displaying to the world their limitations - and sharing things that, perhaps, require a little more nuance than 140 characters allows. Example: there’s a “community of leaders” called CriticalEye. I’m sure it acts as a…

Read more

Great time last week at the BVCA Annual Gala Dinner

15 Dec 2014

We all had a great time last week at the BVCA Annual Gala Dinner which we sponsored. As a team we are all now officially members of the Clare Balding fan club! She was a fantastic after dinner speaker and truly inspiring  individual.  

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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.…

Read more

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…

Read more

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 -…

Read more

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…

Read more

“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…

Read more