Welcome to the second in our series of seasonal features, HMT of Christmas Present. Having shared some of our highlights from the last 28 years, we are now taking a brief look at 2020 and the unforgettable year it has been.
As the longest established corporate finance boutique in the Thames Valley, we have advised entrepreneurial businesses throughout a number of economic cycles but 2020 was to be like none other. As COVID hit the world in January, and the UK went into lockdown in March, many businesses had to pause or abandon their M&A aspirations and quickly switch into survival mode. The focus moved to both fundraising and looking at ways of re-engineering their business model to try and flourish in a lock-down and post lock-down world.
It was incredibly rewarding that in addition to utilising our corporate finance expertise, we were able to draw on the restructuring and debt advisory skills within the team to support so many businesses through these difficult times.
Whilst sadly many more businesses will fail as government initiatives are eased, it has been remarkable how quickly M&A activity has returned. There is a wall of institutional money available, particularly private equity and debt funds. Over the last few years these funds have typically focused on B2B technology enabled businesses and, with these same businesses proving themselves COVID resilient, deal activity was buoyant in the second half of 2020. This has also been compounded with a rush to complete transactions before the threatened hike in capital gains tax rates from early next year.
Despite deal activity returning, it has certainly not been business as usual. We have focused on a number of new sectors such as e-commerce fulfilment, learned to transact largely remotely and have had to secure innovative debt solutions due to the limited availability of many of the traditional sources of capital. Key HMT transactions in 2020 include the PE investments into James and James and Aker Systems as well as the MBO of Envitia.
The corporate finance eco-system is both strong and well-funded and, despite the challenges of 2020, we have been able to grow our team and will round the year off with a record number of completions in our 28 year history for a single month. We have completed 7 transactions so far this month including the MBO of Envitia, the VC Investment in Piclo and the acquisition of Clientbase Fulfilment Ltd by Whistl. In addition, we hope to announce a further two transactions later in December.
We are however well aware that many parts of the economy are suffering, and we will continue to support companies negatively affected by the current pandemic where we can.
We would like to thank you all for your continuous support and contribution to an exceptional year for HMT. We go into 2021 with not only a strong pipeline of transaction opportunities but some exciting team news which we will share with you in our next feature, HMT of Christmas Future!
The HMT team