The Thames Valley Deals Awards 2021, organised by The Business Magazine, brings together corporate finance advisors, lawyers, bankers, private equity investors, accountants, and funding specialists – plus of course the management teams that have led the deals themselves. The event could not take place without the support of sponsors, such as Crowe UK, a leading audit, tax, advisory, and risk firm. We spoke with Mark Allen, Corporate Finance Partner at Crowe UK, on the company's decision to be involved in picking the best of the best in the region, what it is one should look for in a winner for the Thames Valley Deals Awards, and what the general trends in the sector are.
Mark Allen: Crowe has supported the Awards for many years and values the opportunity to recognise the achievements of the local corporate finance community. The Deal of the Year categories reflect Crowe’s own focus on working with ambitious business owners and investors in and around the active Thames Valley M&A market.
Mark Allen: Successful transactions require the commitment and expertise of a range of stakeholders and advisors, so the winning deal should represent the achievements of the teams on both sides, working collaboratively for the benefit of all parties. We also think it is important that the finalists are making a positive impact on the Thames Valley in terms of the local economy, employment, and the environment.
Mark Allen: Crowe focused on two key areas during the pandemic: the wellbeing of our people and the changing needs of our clients. Effective communication was critical in both areas and we found regular, open conversations were the best way to identify and resolve issues. The market became introverted for a number of months, but our clients saw us as an important sounding board for the various challenges and opportunities they faced.
Mark Allen: Despite the hiatus early last year, we saw deal activity return strongly in the autumn of 2020, which gave everyone renewed confidence and enabled us to continue to grow and invest in our people. This was probably due to a combination of transactions postponed from earlier in the year, the threat of a potential CGT rate rise and the wall of capital that had built up in private equity funds. In resilient sectors such as Technology and Healthcare, both critical to the Thames Valley, we saw valuations continuing to rise, generating attractive returns for private and institutional shareholders.
Mark Allen: Whilst some industries will still be focused on trading out of the pandemic, we expect deal activity to continue positively into 2022. Inbound investment from overseas buyers and private equity’s search for capital deployment and returns show no sign of slowing down, particularly in high-growth sectors. As a key element of the UK’s economy, we remain optimistic that the Thames Valley will be at the heart of M&A activity and that the local corporate finance community will collectively benefit.