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Networking & News in Lockdown

26 Apr 2021

With the bars and restaurants closed during the first 3 months of the year, we invited advisors and investors to taste some fine wines and extraordinary cheeses as an excuse to talk business.

In addition to the latest M&A trends and market insights, we were also pleased to discuss our recent transactions, including a £90m ABL facility for Evo Business Supplies, the £16m ABL facility to support the acquisition of Evtec from administration and our most recent £100m facility for an oil products business.

We would like to thank everyone involved, especially Sam’s Wine Club in Manchester (@samswineclub) for their exquisite taste and exceptional organisational skills.

The Grapevine

As well as some interesting tips on crypto currency and thoughts on how we could, after 20 more years of global warming, have some world class vineyards in Yorkshire, there were lots of very interesting insights into the market.

Restructuring teams have been quieter than usual and are largely at the mercy of the Chancellor’s support mechanisms. But when the stabilisers come off the economy then we will see a massive uptick.

CBILS, Furlough and HMRC deferment have been pumping liquidity into the market and delaying the need for business to take action. This tactical decision-making will soon have to be replaced with long-term finance solutions as trading levels increase post-lockdown.

Debt funds have been active and the level of activity has forced them to be competitive for deals. Much of this has been in the mainstream space. The UK mid-market appears to be holding up well.

Q3 2020 saw an M&A boom on the back of anticipated changes to CGT in the budget. Consequently, debt advisory teams have played an increasing role in supporting acquisitions with funding requirements. Terms were similar to pre-Covid.

PE houses were initially quiet in the first lockdown while they shored up their portfolios. Later in 2020 their activity was focused on bolt-on acquisitions. In 2021 they are starting to seek solutions involving distressed assets and focus activity on new acquisitions, MBOs and MBIs.

High street banks have been difficult to get new lending through. Even historically commercial banks and deal teams were having transactions blocked at credit due to ‘sector’ issues. The alternative finance sector is ideally positioned to meet the need for additional working capital in the next phase of emergence from the pandemic.

Attention then turned quickly to the wines, which range from some special treats to more everyday tasters. There were some firm favourites, but overall, every selection got a round of applause:



Firm recommendations came in for the following too:

Leyda, Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Valle de Leyda D.O, Chile, 2018
Domaine Pradelle, Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhone, France, 2017
Chateau Ste Michelle, Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, USA, 2019
Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Shiraz, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2016
Cheateau Ste Michelle, Syrah, Columbia Valley, USA, 2018

Of the cheeses, two in particular shone through amongst a stellar selection:


As lockdown restrictions ease, we look forward to meeting in person once again and demonstrating our new found confidence with a wine list!