MBM’s head office is in Edinburgh, but our London office is flourishing at a time when the whole applecart feels like it could be upset at any minute. Michael Arnott who heads up the London office asks why:
We have been expecting a ‘Brexit slowdown’ for some time, in fact for more than three years, ever since the outcome of the referendum became clear. In that time we have had the usual ups and downs, but we still await a material detrimental effect on the size or the number of transactions we are seeing. That applies equally to our corporate finance practice as well as M&A work.
Some of our deals certainly have been delayed or postponed, but equally we have been involved in others that are being actively accelerated to get them completed before 31 October, which is only probably the day on which we will leave the EU. Our dealflow in London remains ‘Strong and Stable’. Hopefully it will continue to be after Halloween too. We believe so and are in the middle of a recruitment process to match.
Uncertainty is traditionally a fetter on corporate finance and acquisitions, but we wonder whether or not the nation (and perhaps the world) is now in a new world of aggressive introverted national politics, fuelled by fake news and self-interest, where uncertainty is the new normal. It certainly feels that way since Trump and Brexit. Perhaps we have all habituated to the uncertainty, accepted that the Government is in a mess and resolved that we will not standby inertly anticipating a time when all of this has blown over – we may have to wait for decades. Perhaps the national sentiment is to keep calm and more importantly to carry on doing what we need to do to build and grow our businesses. It must be true that people are more cautious since Brexit, but it appears that caution is not enough to slow progress noticeably; so far at least. The show must go on.
Perhaps the worst is still to come, but we are optimistic that good businesses, well managed, will flourish in all but the worst of political and economic environments. We have clients with excellent businesses which are flying high regardless of the turmoil on the ground, and as a result we are as busy as ever.
The Prime Minister has been found wanting in his use of executive power by the highest court in the land. Westminster has trampled on centuries of parliamentary precedent to allow the opposing factions to fight the war for Brexit. We are living through the most fascinating moments in the growth of our democracy in the last century or more. As we tackle our unabated inboxes, we should pause to remember quite how radical and historic the last three years have been. With luck, we won’t find that the United Kingdom starts to suffer, and in the meantime, we are keeping our heads down with one eye looking at Parliament in these strangest of times.