Upside - Autumn 2020
Insights and Guidance for UK Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Welcome to Our Autumn Edition of Upside
Over the years we have tracked the ups and downs of the UK economy as it experienced a myriad of opportunities and challenges, and throughout that time the team at Duff & Phelps has stood ready to support its clients.
But as challenges go, nothing compares to the current pandemic, which looks far from over. Even as we publish this latest edition of Upside, more government-led intiatives to support businesses have been announced, job support schemes have been extended and and the country has entered its second national lockdown. This all points to a level of unprecedented economic intervention not seen in the UK since the end of the Second World War.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP has been at the forefront of state support, driving every major initiative from the launch of government-backed loan schemes, through to furlough and beyond, with major changes to the corporate insolvency regime and even a dramatic moratorium on landlord action against defaulting tenants.
Billions have been lent to businesses big and small through a variety of loans, not grants, and loans not only need to be repaid, they also need to be affordable. The golden rule of “cash is king” is now more important than ever as businesses look to protect cash positions, irrespective of the new debt loaded onto the balance sheet.
Economists are predicting that 2021 is going to continue to be a challenging year for many businesses, with unemployment rates increasing, business failures continuing and debt defaults rising. It seems inevitable that we are facing a prolonged period of extreme economic challenge globally, not just in the UK, the like of which has not been seen before.
For the past eight months, Duff & Phelps’ UK Restructuring Advisory team has also faced the new world of working from home and relying upon what sometimes feels like relentless video conferencing. For those who claimed that an industry such as restructuring could not achieve such a dramatic transformation in the way it operates, we have proved otherwise.
As a firm, Duff & Phelps has shown itself to be resilient and we have maintained our operational efficiency through the strength of our IT platforms and the hard work of our teams during this period. Many businesses and clients have not been so fortunate and face challenges which simply can’t be navigated without additional independent financial and professional support. I am proud to reflect on the types of initiatives we have developed and are working on right now so that we, as a business, are at the forefront of innovative, constructive commercial thinking. This will be essential to help our clients develop and build contingency plans and solutions to address the issues they are experiencing and expect to encounter as we move into 2021.
As a business, the UK Restructuring team has responded with a host of new senior appointments with Paul Reeves, Chris Coley, Joanne Wright and Rob Armstrong all joining the firm as managing directors in the past year. Over the past 24 months, the team has also seen a significant level of growth in the core business. To service this increased demand and activity as we look to 2021, we will continue to recruit and promote the best people to remain a provider of excellence and choice. I am very pleased to confirm that we anticipate announcing further managing director and senior appointments over the coming months.
Aligned with this growth has been a move into new offices in Manchester and a drive to build a broader national service offering from our three regional locations. To support this expansion I am delighted to announce that David Fleming, Matt Ingram and Ben Wiles have been appointed to work alongside me as a national leadership team as we take the business to its next stage of development.
On a corporate front, it has continued to be a tremendously exciting time to be part of Duff & Phelps. In April 2020, Duff & Phelps announced the completion of its acquisition by a global investor consortium led by funds managed by Stone Point Capital and Further Global for $4.2 billion. This is an exciting milestone for the firm, and I have no doubt that our clients and employees will benefit from this partnership as we broaden our reach with global investor communities.
As we near the end of what has been the most extraordinary year, we must not, of course, lose sight of the fact that this has been incredibly difficult for many families, businesses and employees. Next year will inevitably produce a host of new challenges, but we are here to help, collaborate and guide our clients through those challenges and out the other side.
In this edition of Upside, our experts identify and explore issues affecting businesses across the UK and outline strategies to help navigate the economic uncertainty that COVID-19 has presented. I hope you find the insights that follow informative and helpful in understanding how we as a business are working to assist all of our clients and friends in these extraordinary times.
Head of UK Restructuring Advisory