Onward and upwards in 2012 please

David Hellier
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AS the business year draws to a close, there is one last opportunity to reflect on what has gone before, and to consider what might lie ahead.

In the financial world, 2011 will forever be remembered as the year the wheels fell off the euro.

The single currency is still intact, but nobody quite knows how long it will remain so, nor which countries will stay inside the currency zone if it does survive.

The instability of the euro and the debt issues of the member states have dominated debate and led movements in financial markets. This has depressed mergers and acquisitions activity, which fell 32 per cent worldwide in the final quarter of the year and an even bigger 41 per cent in Europe, according to Thomson Reuters.

Indeed, when I attended recent briefings at JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, both firms remarked how they had rarely ever known the markets to be so dominated by macroeconomic events.

Against this background there have been some deals that have managed to succeed, such as the sale of Charter to Colfax or the recent £1.5bn acquisition of European Goldfields by Eldorado, but in the main the dealmakers have had a quiet time.

London IPOs, or new issues, have gone through a dismal period despite the record-breaking Glencore share sale.

There has been a growing distrust between buyers and sellers but once again the most dominant factor appears to have been uncertainty about the economic backdrop and the ensuing market volatility.

Looking ahead, as a paper we will continue to fight for the City’s interests, without being slavish.

Senior people in the City have tried hard in the months just past to work for the common good, yet they remain pilloried in some sections of society.

Just the other day Jonathan Moulds, the European president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, showed awareness of this as he addressed a group of City folk in the crypt of St Paul’s to back the Lord Mayor’s Appeal for 2012.

Moulds explained that it was fitting for him to be launching the appeal within St Paul’s because his bank had tremendous views of the spectacular cathedral. “We also have great views of the Old Bailey,” he said, “which some may feel is more relevant.”

In the months ahead, the City will be doing well for itself if people become aware of the positive things it does – in terms of producing tax revenue, providing employment, giving to charities etc. – and if fewer dwell on the negatives.

As a newspaper in an industry that is creaking from the twin effects of economic pressure and moral uncertainly after the hacking scandal, City A.M. has been fortunate in enjoying a year of progress.

Revenues have hit a new record, our journalism has been widely regarded, and we have added seminars and a fully-fledged Christmas Charity Appeal to our annual awards event. Online we are seeing increasing traffic, and in terms of distribution we have throughout the year serviced new stations outside our core of the City, Canary Wharf and Mayfair. And there are exciting plans to go further when the time is right.

So thank you for reading, and have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


Allister Heath is away