Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Growing Respect at the Growth Company Investor Awards

Abchurch was out in force as Bozzy, Justin and Charlie headed off to see the great and the good of AIM receive their annual gongs at the Vitesse adviser awards. Abchurch was nominated - thanks to all who voted for us! It turned out that event sponsor Redleaf won it. Rather than eating sour grapes(and consoled by the fact that it’s only two years since we won the award)the Abchurch team congratulated Redleaf, munched yummy nibbles and caught up with houses including Hanson Westhouse, Seymour Pierce, K&L Gates, Evolution, Mazars, Baker Tilly. Whilst we are aware that Financial PR is occasionally deemed further down the food chain than other City adviser roles, it was PR’s who had the last laugh on the night because in terms of usefulness, pleasingly we came second only to Lawyers. Smug grins all-round.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Word of the Week: Darling’s rickety bridge

Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his second UK budget statement on Wednesday. With an unenviable task, Darling’s efforts have caused a reaction of outrage given his perceived over-optimism. The government’s forecasts of 1.25% economic growth in 2010 and 3.5% in 2011 compare with consensus forecasts of 0.3% and 1.9% respectively. The FT has called the budget a ‘short and rickety bridge over a deep chasm’ whilst leader of the opposition David Cameron has branded the growth forecasts less of a U-turn and more of an economic ‘trampoline’. There seems to be little approval of Darling’s plans as he has bowed to pressure to increase tax only on high earners as a political tactic ahead of next year’s general election. Darling has done little to comfort fears over the level of national debt (68% of GDP next year) which is at its highest in any peacetime era. The government has continued discretionary spending against the advice of the Bank of England and avoided broader tax rises. For his part, Darling argues that we cannot cut our way out of recession but we can grow our way out. But he is showing increasing confidence in the future of an ailing economy and we can only hope that this is for rational reasons rather than political ends.


Monday, 20 April 2009

Internationalising Environmental Solutions Conference

Abchurch’s Green Team was in full force at the Internationalising Environmental Solutions conference last week held at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge. The conference was jointly organised by EnviroTech (its director Hugh Parnell is a long-time friend of Abchurch) and The East of England International, with the support of the UK Department of Trade and Innovation. It aims to promote environmental technologies and increase the inflow of international investment and talent in the region. Remarkably the this is likely to be the only region to reach the UK government’s target of 10% electricity from renewables by 2010.

At the conference we saw an impressive number of high-calibre organisations, university centres, and investment incentives set up to promote environmental innovation and business development. Ending the conference on a high note, Abchurch was also mentioned in Hugh’s presentation as a preferred provider of PR services.

Justino & The Tsangaroo

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Word of the week

With March taking the FTSE 100 up above the 4,000 mark again there was talk of a return in the equity markets. What’s more the Dow Jones had its largest monthly rally since 2003! The ‘historic’ G20 doesn’t seem to have had any immediate effect on commercial confidence however, especially in the UK where job cuts are increasing and our flagship FTSE drifting below 4,000 again. Last month is ever more firmly stamped as a ‘bear market rally’ so the next bounce will need to be a little higher for equities to lead the way out of the recession.


Friday, 3 April 2009

Word of the week: G20

So the world leaders have gathered in London this week to sort out the fuddle we have got ourselves into. Thousands more have taken to the streets to demonstrate and in some cases disrupt proceedings. Holding the summit in London’s Docklands area, a few miles from the City and one of the world’s financial centres, does not seem the brightest of plans.

Worryingly there is as much posturing amongst the aggrieved protest groups as between the world leaders, particularly within Europe. And with nine hours of discussion scheduled there is much more than a simple rearrangement required to satisfy the bated breath around the world. None more so than me looking rather drab and hoping I can get back into my uniform with renewed optimism. Pukka.


Image courtesy of suburbanslice on Flickr, through a Creative Commons License.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Baker Tilly is Taking AIM

Baker Tilly's recent Taking AIM survey gave some encouraging statistics on the AIM market.

Although much reduced, AIM’s IPO and transaction total in 2008 outpaced almost all other growth markets as well as the main London market, and is only two IPOs behind the much larger NASDAQ.

AIM’s global reach was undiminished with three quarters of IPOs coming from overseas.

Secondary issues remain a key strength for the market with £3.2bn of further equity funding completed in 2008.

A minimum fund raising for IPOs is felt to be a better regulatory change than a minimum market cap specification due to fluctuations.

Recovery will be preceded by that of the larger caps. But stock picking those that will survive and benefit from disappearing competition on AIM will be the major incentive for investors.

The most popular benefits for an AIM listing were:
1. access to capital, profile, credibility
2. liquidity
3. facilitation of acquisitions
4. facilitation of exit for investors
5. tax breaks and incentives

  • 72% of AIM companies have implemented cost cutting measures.

  • More than half of investors reduced the proportion of funds invested in AIM stocks.

  • 40% of investors believe the reduction in IPOs has increased the quality of the market.

  • 65% of investors put a higher proportion of funds into secondary issues in ‘08 than ‘07 reflecting the continuing support for good AIM companies.

  • 69% of companies and 67% of investors expect AIM to recover from the downturn in 2010.

  • 82% of investors consider UK companies to be a more secure investment than their overseas counterparts.

  • 51% of investors expect the IPO rate to level off at 100-150/ year.

The most important criteria for investment were:
1. good track record
2. good business plan
3. good management
4. strong balance sheet
5. realistic valuation

British Press Awards

To the British Press Awards Dinner at the Grosvenor where I was invited as a guest of Farrer &Co., leading media lawyers. Jon Snow of swingometer fame came straight from his Channel Four news spot with a great speech to present these most prestigious awards.

- The Times won three awards including National Newspaper of the Year- Sam Jones of the FT was highly commended in the Young Journalists of the Year category but was pipped to the post by Tom Harper of the Mail on Sunday
- Digital Journalist of the Year was Dave Hill of the Guardian, the title that also picked up the Website of the Year Award
- Business and Finance Journo of the Year went to Stephen Foley of the Independent
- Gillian Tett of the FT picked up the coveted Journalist of the Year award for her early take on the economic meltdown

The hacks lived up to their alcoholic haze image but let themselves down slightly by giving their winning colleagues a standing ovation each time one them returned to a table with the relevant gong, but then sat and chatted whilst the International Journalist of The Year prize, won by Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand, went uncollected because he is doing a ten year stretch in an Iranian prison for the writings that won him the prize - shame on them for not acknowledging that.

There was hot debate on the table as to whether it was technically possible for the Mail on Sunday to win “Scoop of the Year” for its coverage of Ross & Brand. How you can “scoop” something that has already been broadcast on national radio tested the top media law brains!

Congratulations to the winners, a full list can be found here.


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