AS we hurtle our way towards the middle of the year, my thoughts are starting to turn to the autumn, when we traditionally present awards to those who have excelled in their fields. Today I’m hoping to inspire nominations for one of my favourite categories, the Dealmaker of the Year.
Last year, this award was won by Goldman Sachs’ Mark Sorrell, who advised on the US group Walgreens’ purchase of a 40 per cent stake in AllianceBoots. This was a typical M&A deal; a potential predator buys a large stake with options to add to it later and therefore take full control.
This year so far there has been very little M&A in the UK market. Some might argue that those advising on Liberty Media’s £15bn buyout of the Virgin Media Group deserve recognition. But in my mind the front-runners for this year’s awards will primarily include those who have worked either on crucial rights issues for financially stretched companies such as FirstGroup or Thomas Cook or on new issues such as Partnership Assurance or Countrywide.
FirstGroup’s £600m rights issue, for example, which is in the process of being completed, has been a difficult deal to manage. The transport group has accumulated a big debt position due to an aggressive acquisition in the US and its potential revenue growth has been hit hard by the loss of the west coast franchise it thought it had secured.
Investors in FirstGroup were in no way convinced the company needed to raise more funds and not all have been persuaded by the logic of the deal. But those pushing for the new equity capital, led by advisers from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs and later in the process by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, believww the new capital structure will be beneficial going forward.
But who to nominate from the host of advisers on the deal? Phil Raper and Anthony Gutman of Goldman Sachs, Rupert Hume-Kendall or Ollie Holbourn from Bank of America Merrill Lynch or Malcolm Moir or Jonathan Wilcox of JP Morgan?
Or perhaps Ian Hannam, formerly of JP Morgan, should get a nomination for helping to get the deal over the line, by advising the board on behalf of his new group Strand Partners.
On the Thomas Cook deal, there was a clever mix of equity and debt financing that seems to have won lots of plaudits in the City. Does Sebastian Grigg of Credit Suisse deserve a nomination for his advice on this deal or should it be Tim Shacklock from Gleacher Shacklock?
There’s still time for readers of City A.M. to influence the decisions ahead of our judges’ panel meeting ahead of November’s big night. Feel free to get in touch with your views on nominations: firstname.lastname@example.org