Category: Infrastructure and Project Finance

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsEquityFinanceForeign Direct InvestmentInfrastructure and Project Finance

Mobeus invests £9M in fast-growth customer experience specialists, Ventrica

Ventrica, a European, award-winning, outsourced contact centre, has attracted a £9 million investment from Mobeus Equity Partners. Ventrica provides intelligent, multi-lingual and omni-channel outsourced customer service to a range of global ‘blue-chip’ brands.

“Ventrica is right in the sweet spot for the growing outsourcing contact centre market”

Southend-based Ventrica was founded in 2010 by Dino Forte and has undergone rapid growth, doubling in size over the last two years. Ventrica is an innovation leader in the changing sales and customer service sector. As e-commerce continues to grow, especially in the retail space, and customers expand their communication channels from the phone to email, social media and webchat, companies are increasingly looking to specialists to provide around the clock customer-facing support. Ventrica works closely with its clients, leveraging its people, technology (including support for Artificial Intelligence and Automation) training and resourcing expertise to provide a high quality service, across multiple channels, that supports their brand and their values. 

Ventrica is already one of Essex’s top employers and now plans European expansion

Ventrica is a key employer in Southend and in 2017 the company launched a second site in the town. Employing over 450 staff, and growing to 600 this year, it is one of the town’s major private employers. With support from Mobeus, the company plans further investment to expand its footprint in the UK and Europe to support its growing multi-lingual client base that serve customers across global markets. However the strategy is to remain medium-sized.

Danielle Garland, Mobeus Investment Manager, said, “Ventrica is right in the sweet spot for the growing outsourcing contact centre market – it is large enough to deliver multilingual and leading-edge technology solutions to its blue-chip clients but small enough to be dynamic and innovative and to provide the personalised service its clients require. As more clients onshore back to the UK, Ventrica is very well placed to continue to deliver very strong growth.”

Dino Forte, Ventrica CEO, added, “Mobeus stood out as the right partner because of the team’s immediate enthusiasm for, and deep understanding of, our offering at Ventrica. We have a significant market opportunity and are winning new customer contracts at an increasing rate and of an increasing scale. With Mobeus as a partner, we are well positioned to strengthen our team to support our significant growth whilst also allowing us to better focus on our existing clients which will be our key priority moving forward. 

Mobeus Partner Ashley Broomberg worked with Danielle Garland who sourced and led the transaction on behalf of Mobeus. Guy Blackburn, Mobeus Portfolio Director, has joined the board to support Ventrica in achieving its full potential. Dino Forte was advised by Sarah Moores and Rob Dukelow-Smith (Forward Corporate Finance). 

Failing business
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Lessons From Carillion: Act Now And Ensure Auditor Independence

LESSONS FROM CARILLION: ACT NOW AND ENSURE AUDITOR INDEPENDENCE

By Mehran Eftekhar, Group Finance & Corporate Services Director, Nest Investments

With a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of Carillion underway, Britain’s four biggest accountancy firms are facing new scrutiny. All of the Big 4 apparently failed to detect a near £1 billion overvaluation of assets in the company.

The UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is calling for the competition regulator to investigate audit failings leading up to Carillion’s collapse. One of the biggest issues the Carillion story has exposed is the varied quality of independent oversight in the business.

The FRC investigation will look at the ethical and technical standards of the auditors involved. Their independence and integrity will be under the spotlight like never before. The FRC’s Chief Executive, Stephen Haddrill, has told MPs there needs to be more competition in the major accounting and audit markets. Unfortunately, independence – or the lack thereof – is a contentious issue already debated but with little resulting action. Back in 2013, the Big 4 were heavily criticised for their close personal relationships with chief executives. Nothing was done.

Taking lessons from the Carillion example, and the countless before it, is vital for all growing businesses. Whilst the FRC’s investigations will take many months, there are crucial, simple steps businesses can take now to safeguard the quality of their own audits.

It starts with independence…

A key to delivering quality auditing and accountancy services is understanding the business model whilst remaining independent. This independence is characterised by integrity and objectivity when assessing clients’ businesses and accounts. Auditors must carry out their work fearlessly, freely, without bias and without vested interests in the audit’s outcome so that the reports they produce are accurate and correctly evidenced.

To be truly independent, an auditor must achieve something experts call ‘independence of mind’. This means that the auditor can make unilateral decisions and does not find itself facing conflicts of interest that impact upon financial reporting. Pressures from senior executives, as well as the auditor’s internal pressures to upsell additional services, and the emotional pull of interpersonal relationships are all factors that can impact on true auditor independence.

Can independence ever really be assured?

The short answer is no. But there are several steps that business leaders can take to ensure greater independence as their corporate governance framework develops.

1) Keep auditors separate from your Board of Directors
Understand that an external auditor makes their living from the fee that you pay them. Naturally, this creates pressure to work in a way that will not jeopardise engagement. Whether subconsciously or not, this can potentially impact upon the independence of the audit’s outcome. Many studies have found that the larger the fee, the more likely an auditor is to fluff their role and produce an audit that panders to their client, rather than giving them the advice they need. To avoid manipulation of figures, usually inadvertent or subconscious, auditors need to be protected from the Board of Directors in a way which allows them to challenge statements without fear of recrimination. Brief your Board and check egos at the door, if you want independent results.

2) Help auditors to understand your business
Very often audits start without understanding the client business model: a quick, tick-box exercise does not work. External auditors must have a purpose and the required knowledge of the processes they are auditing. It is very well checking historical information, but projections going forward with a comprehensive business plan provide valuable information. Make sure your auditors have transparent access to this in order to provide the most objective review possible.

3) Diversify suppliers
Often audit firms are large organisations that provide multiple services to one client. Tax advice, ICT consultancy and even marketing communications support are some of the additional services offered by the Big 4. Adding substantial non-audit fees into your professional relationship can seriously impact upon auditor independence. Reduce the auditor’s dependence on you, and preserve their independence, by shopping around for other suppliers.

4) Don’t keep using the same audit firm
Finding an external firm that you like can sometimes be a challenge, but it is important to rotate audit contracts so that personal relationships do not hamper auditor independence. By keeping the same audit firm year after year, it is nearly impossible for external auditors to not become conflicted between reporting financial vulnerabilities or failings and the need to maintain relations and contracts. Instead, when an auditor knows that their contract is to be replaced, they become inclined to produce work of an extremely high and independent quality, to avoid the embarrassment of the incoming audit team exposing their errors.

Currently the United States is leading the way in ensuring auditor independence. There is a legal requirement on businesses to review audit control procedures every three years, ensuring that external audits are carried out professionally and independently. No such system has been formally implemented in the UK. The Carillion story may see tides turning in the near future.

Businesses must ensure they are being provided with the highest quality audit reports. Follow the steps above to avoid the same fate as Carillion. Your reports will be of higher quality and you will secure the future of your business.

 

Cryptocurrency; flash in the pan or long-term investment opportunity?
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Cryptocurrency; flash in the pan or long-term investment opportunity?

Cryptocurrency; flash in the pan or long-term investment opportunity?

By Arianne King, Managing Partner, Al Bawardi Critchlow

Cryptocurrencies have dominated media headlines over the past few months, and no wonder with the value of a single Bitcoin – the original digital currency – growing by more than 1000% in 2017. It would be hard to think of another investment opportunity capable of delivering those returns.

Of course, these figures don’t paint the full story of Bitcoin. 2017 was a rollercoaster ride, with plenty of spectacular price fluctuations along the way, especially during the month of December, when the value of a coin rose from approximately £8,100 to in excess of £14,500 in just a matter of days. Since then, Bitcoin’s crown has slipped a little. At time of writing, a single coin is valued at approximately £8,700, but it’s still worth bearing in mind that this still represents a healthy profit for anyone who invested prior to December’s remarkable rise.

It’s not all about Bitcoin though. Other cryptocurrencies have also begun to attract the attentions of potential investors. Ethereum, Dash and Ripple are just three of note, but there are countless others springing up on a seemingly daily basis.

Investors must of course exercise extreme caution before entering this market, especially as many industry experts consider Bitcoin’s recent slide could be a sign of things to come. But nevertheless, governments, traditional banks, financial regulators, and both commercial and hobby investors are increasingly investigating how they can participate in the market.

So, could this be the year when cryptocurrencies gain traction with everyday investors?

Crypto’s image problem

To achieve mainstream appeal, digital currencies must first shake off their close associations with the criminal underworld. Their links to the Dark Web, for money laundering, funding terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as many other illegal activities, represents a major barrier to investors.

The market still has a long way to go to disassociate itself with these shady beginnings. While there are now many legitimate Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) of new currencies, regulators – most notably the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) – are still warning investors to be on the lookout for bogus ICOs. Scams are so problematic that in China the government has banned ICOs altogether.

A lack of adequate security is another factor inhibiting mainstream participation. November 2017’s $31m hack on a Tether Treasury Wallet was just one in a long line of thefts.

While it’s easy to paint a bleak picture of cryptocurrencies, it is still worth remembering that not every ICO is a ruse and not every wallet is vulnerable to hackers. The modus operandi of virtual currency operators vary considerably, as do their underlying technology infrastructures. Due diligence should be undertaken before contemplating any type of investment, however small.

The role of regulation

Digital currencies have gained momentum because, for the most part, they fall outside of the jurisdiction of governments, regulators and central banks. As true global currencies, they do not recognise trading arrangements or geographic boundaries. This frictionless quality is their appeal, but it also makes them hard to monitor and regulate.

That hasn’t stopped traditional financial institutions and law makers from trying to get involved. Indeed, over recent months many of the more traditional players have shifted from being mere observers to taking a more active role.

In particular, regulation is set to be tightened. Laws being muted by the UK and some EU governments recognise the need to update anti-money laundering legislation so it is fit for the digital age. As a by-product, it could also bring much needed credibility and stability to what is an immature, volatile market.

Of course, cryptocurrency-related regulation is itself immature and in a state of flux, as law makers attempt to keep pace with this rapidly evolving market. Even though the crypto-market is open to everyone via the internet, legislation and regulations vary considerably between countries. Activity that is perfectly legal in one country, might be illegal in another. For example, in Bangladesh, crypto is outlawed completely; anyone investing could be found guilty of money laundering. At the other end of the scale, SBB, the Swiss rail operator, accepts Bitcoin as payment.

While some countries will undoubtedly use regulation to inhibit or even ban adoption, more openminded regulation may provide the impetus required to take digital currencies mainstream. That said, if momentum continues to build, the day will soon arrive when it is almost impossible for any regulator to outlaw or restrict their use.

Blockchain: the real opportunity?

Blockchain is the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and, despite the headlines about wallet hacks, it is inherently secure.

Each blockchain contains a decentralised ledger of all transactions which can neither be amended or deleted. Each individual block in the chain has a timestamp and a link to the previous block; this forms a chronological chain that is encrypted to ensure records cannot be altered by others. Theft or fraud is extremely difficult, not just because of the encryption, but also because copies of each blockchain are distributed throughout a peer to peer network. No changes can be made to the blockchain without that change being applied to all blocks in the chain.

This represents a major advancement over traditional banking systems, which are often based on older technology with known vulnerabilities. Indeed, the Australian Stock Exchange recently announced its plans to replace its current clearing system with blockchain technology.

Blockchain security is likely to be the crypto market’s greatest attribute as it strives to establish its mainstream credentials.

What next for crypto?

Few people would have predicted what has happened to Bitcoin’s value over the past few months. What will happen in 2018 is largely anyone’s guess. However, there are signs that it – together with other cryptocurrencies – are beginning to appeal to a wider set of investors.

Increased interest from the regulators, coupled with mainstream financial brands incorporating blockchain technology into their daily business operations, is beginning to provide credibility and stability to what is still a very immature and unpredictable market. While it’s still very much in its adolescence, it will be interesting to see the rate at which the market grows up.



An Ode to Banks: Collaborate And Thrive
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

An Ode to Banks: Collaborate And Thrive


An Ode to Banks: Collaborate And Thrive

Open banking will soon be with us, while some people are still fighting to accept APIs as the new reality, for many the dialogue has moved on and they now look to identify partners with whom they can collaborate and thrive. Andrew H Brown, Chief Risk Officer, Earthport Plc, tells us more.

The pace of change in the financial system is ever increasing: new infrastructures, legislation and regulation, and market and product evolution. But, who pays for these changes?

Ultimately, the consumer pays for every change, either directly or indirectly, but as PSD2 goes live in January 2018, there is some anxiety about this mandated move towards “open” banking. Some of that angst focuses on who is to pay for continued development of the infrastructure. Are the costs of the required broader access to be borne by the banks or shared across the entities that provide alternative services via that access?

Such a debate is hardly surprising when the impact will be, at least in some areas, to end the banking monopoly that has existed for many years over a wide range of financial services. Should the banks that developed and maintain these utilities be forced to give “free” access to other commercial (potentially competitive) entities?

In truth, any and all costs always end up with the customer, and if there is an individual consumer behind that, with him or her. Sothe oft referenced concept of “free banking” has always been something of a fallacy, albeit one that has perpetuated for decades.

As banks and their core services become more akin to utilities, the opacity of the pricing of these services is a cause of concern, so the provision of pricing transparency in offerings such as Earthport’s own is increasingly a competitive differentiator.

During the financial crisis, the bail-out of banks via the public purse challenged the definition of a free market – at least as it had been applied to banks. A “free market” after all, removes the need for a “lender of last resort” allowing banks to operate outside of regulation and standalone.

The crisis demonstrated that banks and governments are indelibly linked, that sovereign nations need a robust and stable banking system, and that that system must not be allowed to fail in times of stress. Banks are under obligation to adhere to legislation, regulation and codes of practice, and to meet a variety of social responsibilities. These include the provision of services to the most vulnerable in society, access for rural communities etc. Sometimes these complex obligations are evident in direct legislation (e.g. requiring the provision of free or low-cost current accounts) sometimes supported through government programmes (e.g. those ensuring the provision of ATMs in remote and/or less profitable areas).

We didn’t quite get to see what would happen if the system actually unwound, but we came perilously close. Moreover, despite widespread criticism of the banks, their legacy systems, and indeed their internal cultures, we have yet to see a mass exodus of bank customers to alternative providers. Nevertheless, it should have been something of a wake-up call.

PSD2 and open banking are, at least in part, responses to the financial crisis. A recognition of too much concentration risk in the system. Banks now fear a different risk; that such legislative prescription will support their disintermediation, driving wholesale industry changes that will erode their market share across a wide range of financial services.

But for those that do adapt to this brave new world (and it is now inevitable) choosing the right partners means banks can benefit from their most valuable assets: the scale of their customer bases, the associated deep rich data, and the hard to erode Trust that consumers have in their brands. The right partners can enable banks to leapfrog development costs, unchain themselves from monolithic legacy systems and directly leverage exciting new technologies to provide cheaper, better and more efficient services.

To do this they will need to act with some urgency, some institutions continue to invest heavily in aged systems lacking the flexibility to move with the changing dynamic. However, this new regulatory framework around the “free market” will be good news for consumers.

It means a greater choice of better services. The mythical free banking era is long gone as banks struggle to make the margins they did in the past, hampered by low interest rate regimes, more challenging capital and other regulatory demands, and fresh competition from nimble providers without legacy issues.

Most banks now realise that life will never be the same as it was before 2008 – and some are already making forays into the brave new world, working with carefully identified partners, learning how to be successful after the vertically integrated model is re-tooled, determining new pricing models across multi-party chains. Given what we experienced over the past decade, sharing the risk and the reward isn’t such a bad thing, is it?

QICGRE and Clean Energy Finance Corporation Partner In An Australian First
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

QICGRE and Clean Energy Finance Corporation Partner In An Australian First

QICGRE and Clean Energy Finance Corporation Partner In An Australian First

In an Australian retail property first, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will invest $200 million into QICGRE’s flagship Shopping Centre Fund (QSCF) to undertake improvements in energy performance across the QSCF shopping centre portfolio.

The senior debt facility is the CEFC’s largest property investment commitment to date and will support improvements in its Australian shopping centres located in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT.

Australian shopping centres, which account for 36 per cent of commercial building energy consumption, are a relatively untapped opportunity to transform energy use and reduce carbon emissions. They also provide the opportunity to make local communities “greener” by engaging with customers with initiatives to improve sustainability and reduce energy use.

There more than 1,750 shopping centres in Australia, and yet less than 10 per cent of them have attained National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) ratings that measure how well they perform in terms of energy use. That represents enormous potential for improvement.

Shopping centres have substantial energy needs with large enclosed malls and retail areas necessitating ‘year-round’ heating and air-conditioning supply. There is a range of environmental initiatives that can be implemented to deliver energy efficiencies in shopping centre operations

QSCF’s retail footprint encompasses over 1 million square metres of floor space and, each year, accommodates more than 130 million visitations, generating more than $5 billion in retail transactions.
Through the CEFC’s agreement with QSCF, QICGRE will provide a pathway to reducing energy consumption and will undertake customer engagement activities that inform shoppers of the initiatives being carried out.

Steve Leigh, Managing Director of QICGRE said the agreement reached with CEFC was an important milestone in the history of the organisation.

“All of the funds in our portfolio are guided by a firm commitment to driving improvements in ESG-related initiatives, and in particular focusing on energy reduction and security across the portfolio.

“In a broader sense, successfully delivering these initiatives contributes to achieving our triple bottom line objectives incorporating economic and environmental factors, and social priorities.

“Our ESG Strategy and operating procedures align with globally recognised standards and we partner with respected organisations to assist us in the delivery of programs designed to achieve industry best-practice.”

QSCF Fund Manager, Michael Fattouh said: “This partnership with CEFC presents a unique opportunity to align QSCF’s capital management strategy, that seeks to diversify its sources of funding, with QICGRE’s broader ESG ambitions to drive sustainability initiatives and manage energy risk across our retail portfolio. The CEFC facility is also QSCF’s first “green debt” facility and the first major investment CEFC has committed to the Australian retail sector, for which we are extremely proud.”

“QSCF is also commencing work with the CEFC to understand potential pathways to achieving net zero carbon emissions across its portfolio, building on QICGRE’s recently announced target of generating 30 per cent of all base load power for retail asset common areas from renewable energy by 2025.”

While the energy efficiency targets will be achieved through strategies specific to each building, environmental initiatives identified may include:

• onsite rooftop solar PV

• LED lighting

• heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system upgrades

• sub-metering and energy data monitoring systems to provide data to optimise energy management processes.

A series of energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives will be rolled out across the portfolio in the short and medium term. Although the shopping centres involved are of different ages and are at different levels of sustainability, QICGRE is targeting a minimum 4-star NABERS (excluding GreenPower) rating for all assets in its portfolio within 5 years, which will translate to energy savings of between 30 and 40 per cent.

A Wealth of Specialist Services
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

A Wealth of Specialist Services

TCA Asset Management is a specialised investment boutique, established in Geneva during 2011. Managing Director Ludovic Bonnamour discusses the firm’s work, following their success in achieving the accolade of the Most Outstanding Investment Advisory Firm – Switzerland, as part of the Fund Manager Elite 2017 series.

TCA Asset Management is an innovative alternative boutique asset management firm. Established in Geneva in 2011, it is a fast-growing company, currently providing four complimentary activities: wealth management; corporate finance; family office and fund support services.

The firm was established to bear in mind any forthcoming regulatory changes and evolving client needs over the long term (i.e. greater efficiency, higher service levels, global banking and choice of services). The business was structured from a risk management perspective, rather than the usual business model adopted by EAMs of just pooling assets. This model brings a long-term perspective for both internal and external clients, enabling the company to grow continuously.

Ludovic Bonnamour is the managing director and partner of TCA Asset Management, a Swiss-based advisory boutique specialising in fund support services, wealth management and corporate finance. In his own words, Ludovic tells us more about his own role in the firm.

My role is to build and to develop the company as an overall (from the business activities to the CFO duties), so I am involved in global management and business development when assisting the team and our specialists in the day to day business for servicing clients.

“I have worked 14 years in finance and be able to acquire skills and knowledge from international companies such as Allianz and HSBC in several functions from risk management to advisory services, and alongside internal and external clients in retail banking, private banking and corporate banking activities. Specialising in alternative investments as well as in quantitative fields, I worked in the hedge funds industry, credit advisory, portfolio leverage analysis, Basel regulatory capital requirements and lending activities, while liaising with group offices before developing new services from TCA Asset Management since 2011.”

Opportunities and challenges for the industry The firms in Switzerland and abroad recently recovered from the global heavy consecutive financial crisis of the last ten years, that impacted not only the financial markets, but also the real economy Ludovic highlights.

“That highlighted clear shifts in strategy for lots of countries, governments and companies, working on new kind of technologies, new types of income streams while sometimes venturing into completely new approaches” he went on to say.

“Switzerland is now for a while, very well recognised for its manufacturing industry, for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, as well as for its knowhow in terms of financial centre. Switzerland is for a long time recognised for its stability, universality, responsibility and excellence with proven methods and reliability” Ludovic continues.

First Triggered by the 2008/2009 crisis and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis, the last five years have had an impact on the local financial market environment in Switzerland and its wealth management industry Ludovic believes. This includes solving the problems of the past with taxation and transparency, adopting international standards, bringing market access in the EU and compatibility of products and improving the competitiveness framework conditions.

“The authority started to strengthen professionalism and regulatory requirements for managing financial assets and financial companies. At the same time, due to higher costs, sometimes decrease of profitability or even legal constraints, banks merged or closed, therefore the number of actors continuously decreased by more than 20% over the last twelve years (338 in 2004 and 266 in 2015 – source SNB).

“The private banking industry in Switzerland (in numbers) is today represented by 266 institutions and more than 2400 independent firms (from 1 to 15 employees), so that is nearly 90% of the financial actors. Independent actors so called ‘External Asset Managers’ (EAMs) manage clients’ assets through banks (custody and brokerage services) with a portfolio management approach based on an advisory or a discretionary mandate on behalf of clients.

“Nowadays, CHF 6567 billion are managed in Switzerland through banks – 50% of these assets are originated from abroad (recognised expertise by the international clients) – and this corresponds to a market share of 25.0% of the global cross-border asset management business placing Switzerland n°1.” (source SwissBanking.org)

Having worked in the field for more than 14 years, created an EAM multi boutique asset management firm, developed a cross selling approach with four activities, developed a large network of partners, banks, investors and clients in Switzerland and abroad, Ludovic can attest of a real need of services and a real opportunity to gather market shares.

“A good part of EAMs are now too small for being able to survive (1 to 3 people), offer only one expertise (portfolio management without advisory services or CIO), express difficulties in bringing transparent solutions and value added to their clients.

On top of all this, a vast majority of these actors are turning or have turned 55/65 years old and therefore do not want to build new teams and services. These investment boutiques cannot afford to hire senior investment specialists dedicated to macro research and products. They finally must pay external services such as our “CIO Office Solution” for getting access to a professional advisory and investment committee services”

“Surprisingly, each crisis has helped our firm to increase both its reputation and simultaneously its revenues. Due to a lack of credit in the market following the credit crunch, and based on the team expertise -we have developed an offer around corporate needs that has met people’s needs, the Bernie Maddoff story helped us to develop the fund support activities due to a need of transparency, a third-party monitoring and credibility from a recognised external team.”

“Moreover, the private banks themselves are indirectly helping us to develop businesses through their changing employment policies (reduced job security, constantly increasing pressure and decreasing rewards) and also their approach towards their clients (arbitrarily closing bank accounts of smaller clients in order to manage fewer relationships). We now talk about externalisation and independency from banks.”

Ludovic concludes that clients are more and more comparing services, looking for fee transparency, alignment of interests and open architecture while talking about investments and custodians. Our company has evolved since its inception in 2011 and developed several complimentary activities that led to several well-deserved awards and recognitions from peers based on this long-term approach.

Company: TCA Asset Management
Name: Ludovic Bonnamour – Managing Director
Email: [email protected] 
Web Address: www.tca-am.com 
Address : Rue du Port 8/10, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland 
Telephone: +41 (0)22 566 5250

Successful Placement of the €300 Million Notes Offering
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Successful Placement of the €300 Million Notes Offering

Successful placement of the €300 million notes offering


Rexel, a global leader in the professional distribution of products and services for the energy world, has successfully placed €300 million of its 2.625% unsecured senior notes due 2024 (the ”Notes”).

The delivery and settlement and the listing of the notes on the Euro MTF market of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange are expected to occur on or about March 13, 2017.

The Notes, which mature on June 15, 2024, will be callable as from March 2020. They will rank pari passu with Rexel’s senior credit facility and other senior unsecured notes. The Notes are expected to obtain the following ratings: Ba3 by Moody’s (while Rexel’s corporate rating is Ba2 with a stable outlook), BB- by S&P (while Rexel’s corporate rating is BB with a stable outlook) and BB by Fitch (in line with Rexel’s corporate rating with a stable outlook).

Rexel will use the proceeds of the issuance of the Notes, together with some available cash, to redeem all of the 5.250% senior US$ notes due June 2020 (the “2020 Notes”) of which US$330,000,000 remain outstanding. Rexel expects to redeem the 2020 Notes on or about June 15, 2017. Rexel can elect not to redeem the 2020 Notes if it does not issue the Notes or if there is a material adverse change in financial markets.

This issuance will allow Rexel to enhance its financial structure by extending its debt maturity profile and reducing its overall cost of financing.

BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank acted as Joint Global Coordinators, and as Joint Lead Bookrunners for the offering. Merrill Lynch International, HSBC Bank plc and Natixis acted as Joint Bookrunners, and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A., Crédit Industriel et Commercial S.A. and Société Générale acted as Co-Lead Managers.

Patrick BERARD, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“The success of this new seven-year note issuance confirms investor confidence in Rexel’s business model and strategy. It will allow us to refinance the 5.250% notes issued in 2013 at a significantly lower cost.

This operation constitutes a further step in our continuous efforts to strengthen our balance sheet and reduce our cost of financing.”

This document is not an offer of securities for sale nor the solicitation of an offer to purchase securities in France, in the United States or any other jurisdiction.

The securities described herein may not be offered or sold in the United States or to, or for the account or benefit of, U.S. persons unless they are registered or exempt from registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). The securities described herein have not been and will not be registered under Securities Act and Rexel does not intend to make a public offer of its securities in the United States.

The offer and sale of the Notes in France will be carried out through a private placement in accordance with article L.411-2 of the French Financial and Monetary Code and other applicable laws and regulations. There will be no public offering in France.

Quality
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Quality, Value and Integrity

Lennar International is a division of one of America’s largest homebuilders, Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN). Lennar International raises and directs foreign investments in Lennar through home sales and the United States’ EB-5 immigrant investor program and matches foreign capital with opportunities throughout the Lennar platform.

Lennar has established one of the largest geographically diverse real estate portfolios in the United States, including for sale homes, for rent homes and apartments, large master planned communities, commercial and other asset classes. Lennar is recognised as an intelligent underwriter of all manner of land positions and is a prolific purchaser, and seller, of land in the United States. The Lennar brand exemplifies our guiding principles – Quality. Value. Integrity.

Recently, Lennar International has become a beacon for foreign direct investment into the Lennar U.S. real estate eco-system, helping attract well over $4.5 billion across the platform over the last three years. Chris Marlin tells us more about his role within the organisation.

“I manage a team of incredibly intelligent, talented and hard-working people that now call North America home, but are originally from around the globe: China, Canada, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe as well as the U.S. In order to effectively communicate and appropriately react to global events, we constantly monitor the world’s geopolitical, economic and environmental status as well as what is happening with social issues, entertainment and sports. We have also created a global network of real estate professionals around the world who help us tell the Lennar story and keep us engaged in their countries.”

The firm’s success lies in the testimonies of its customers, who have nothing but praise for the company.

“We make the home buying and investment process as simple as possible” explains Chris. “Our team offers expertise in financing, guidance through the different laws and regulations foreign buyers face as well as being able to communicate in the buyer’s native language. We operate with complete transparency and integrity and our buyers and investors appreciate this level of service and professionalism.”

With regards to the future, Chris foretells both opportunities and challenges for the firm, and for the industry also.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about the world. We need to remind our partners and potential buyers that despite this uncertainty, the US offers endless reasons to invest in real estate, as long as you are investing with an experienced, consumer-oriented, transparent and highly regarded builder, co-investor, operator … like Lennar. Lennar is happy to roll out the welcome mat for everyone.

“Disruption is around every corner – and on every phone. The way the U.S. real estate industry does business could be at the vanguard of the next great disruption. Lennar sees this as an opportunity to evolve rapidly to embrace the change that is inevitable in this industry — and to lead our customers and investors into tomorrow’s realities, today.”

“However, Brand America is alive and well. The USA remains, and is expected to remain for a long time, the #1 destination for real estate capital, globally. And Lennar will continue to demonstrate why its core principles of quality, value and integrity make its platform the premier destination for US real estate investment.”

Company: Lennar International Name: Chris Marlin Email: [email protected] Web Address: www.LennarInternational.com

Investing in Macro Trading - Investing for the Future
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Investing in Macro Trading – Investing for the Future

History of Systematic Global Macro

Systematic global macro managers have a track record of producing positive annual returns for more than three decades with low to negative correlations to traditional asset classes and hedge fund strategies. They can also be classified as global macro, managed futures, or trend-following/ CTA. The core methodologies used by systematic global macro programs are well-documented in academic and financial literature.

Why ‘Systematic’ Macro instead of Discretionary?

Systematic trading has significant advantages over discretionary styles. For example, one of the challenges faced by a discretionary trader is the control of emotions during critical points of market activity or personal performance. In contrast, systematic trading programs are emotionless and do not suffer from this issue. Investment decisions are based on decades of historical quantitative research and are carried out in a repeatable, systematic, disciplined manner.

Since they are almost or entirely automated, trading systems are easily scalable and can thus far more readily accommodate new markets or new investor capital. Finally, systematic programs are typically more broadly diversified than discretionary traders, both in the number of markets analysed and in the types of strategies employed.

Potential Benefits
– Portfolio Diversification – since its September 2003 inception, Red Rock’s SGM program has produced -0.08 correlation to stocks and 0.06 correlation to bonds.
– Long or Short exposure to over 70 globally diversified, highly liquid commodity & financial futures markets spanning all market sub-categories: grains, precious and base metals, energies, foods & softs, currencies, interest rates, bonds, and equity indices.
– Opportunity to be on receiving end of ‘Crisis Alpha’ – during the Great Financial Crisis (Sep ’07 – Feb ’09) our Systematic Global Macro program netted clients +75.52% returns, while U.S. stocks lost -48.14%, International stocks lost -51.92%, Commodities lost -43.69%, and Hedge Funds were down -17.01%.
– SMAs offered at client’s choice of broker. Daily pricing, transparency & liquidity.
– Regulated futures exchanges minimise credit risk and allow for standardised contract specifications.
– Margin requirements are generally significantly less than in the cash markets, creating an opportunity to use leverage effectively.

Key Return Drivers
– Futures often get incorrectly labelled as ‘zero-sum’ because for every buyer of a contract, there is a seller – and all contracts eventually expire worthless. While this is true of how futures contracts logistically work, it does not speak to the inherent return that can be mined from successful systematic futures trading. Hedgers, the very large group of market participants who wish to reduce their unknown future price risk, are continually willing to be on the receiving end of losing positions. This risk off-loading provides a risk premium for those skilled enough to be able to regularly capture it.
– Also, as highlighted by Behavioural Finance, many large market participants exhibit ‘herd’ behaviour and sub-optimal psychological biases.

How Red Rock Capital’s Systematic Global Macro Program works: g Basic statistics and quantitative analysis are used to put a framework around repeatable investor behaviour.

– The strategy was designed from the ground up to systematically capture the risk premiums made possible by hedgers and inefficient market participants who exhibit herd behaviour / biases.
– Technical data such as price, volatility, term-structure, and volume are statistically analyzed and trending environments in various markets are identified.
– If legitimate trending behaviour is identified, a long or short position is initiated in a market.
– Only a small amount of account equity is risked on each new position g Exits / stop-losses are pre-determined and aim to reduce risk and volatility.
– Winning trends are kept in the portfolio; losing trades are jettisoned to preserve capital.
– Over time performance has resulted in a payout profile that is similar to being long options; that is, the strategy experiences larger profits when a trend emerges, but relatively small losses when trends fail to materialise or reverse.
Red Rock’s edge, stemming from one of the founder’s training, is that we incorporate Probability Theory in a unique and effective manner that increases the risk-adjusted returns of our Systematic Global Macro program.

Why Red Rock Capital’s Systematic Global Macro?

Almost 13 years of proven net performance to investors – much of it when they needed it most. With all of the uncertainty in the current global marketplace such as China’s currency interventions, Brexit, Bank of Japan NIRP, and FED attempts to continue to normalise rates, high net worth investors would be wise to consider a strategy that is ‘long volatility’ – and that has shown to prosper during times when traditional asset classes have struggled the most.

About Red Rock Capital

Red Rock Capital is a multi-award winning commodity investment management firm. During 2016 Red Rock’s Systematic Global Macro Program will proudly celebrate its 13th anniversary. The firm is lead by Thomas Rollinger, most notably a devoted pupil and former protégé of quantitative hedge fund legend, Edward O. Thorp. Rollinger’s partner is Scott T. Hoffman, the original founder of Red Rock. Given recent developments with the firm, plus increasingly favorable market conditions, Red Rock is especially well-positioned to grow and thrive in the managed futures industry.

Company: Red Rock Capital
Name: Thomas Rollinger
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.redrockcapital.com
Address: 5000 Birch Street, Suite 3000 Newport Beach, CA 92660
Telephone: 001 949 648 9506

Earning Their Stripes
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Earning Their Stripes

Zebra Technologies’ products and solutions are currently used by 95% of Fortune 500 companies across the manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and logistics and retail industries. Zebra’s IoT-enabled devices and solutions have improved everything from efficiency for global shipping networks to retail stocking environments. With the unparalleled visibility Zebra provides, enterprises can become as smart and connected as the world we live in.

Among the firm’s recent innovations is the Zebra SmartSense™ for Retail asset visibility solution, an Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI) offering that delivers deeper visibility into retail operations, provides better business insights and enables smarter decisions. This innovative solution combines UHF RFID, video and a new micro-location capability — to identify and track the journey and location of merchandise, associates and shoppers in a retail store in real-time.

A powerful edge analytics engine analyses data from these sources to provide intelligent, actionable insights to achieve optimal stocking levels, detect and identify misplaced merchandise or assets, pinpoint theft and enhance store promotions and product placement activities.

In addition, Zebra’s TC8000 touch mobile computer drives significant gains in productivity in warehouse operations and decreases worker fatigue with its ergonomic design. This product earned the Red Dot Award for Design Innovation in 2016. Zebra also recently introduced the next evolution in enterprise mobile computing: the TC5 Series touch mobile computers.

As part of its dedication to supporting clients and providing them with the very best solutions that meet their needs, many senior staff work closely with clients, including CEO Anders Gustafsson. Working with customers, partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders to help improve enterprises by connecting the physical and digital worlds to drive innovation, efficiencies and global economic growth, Anders supports the creation of the “intelligent enterprise”.

The rate of technological change is rapid, and businesses need to be able to adapt quickly to keep up. Zebra’s solutions offer real-time operational visibility into their enterprises to help them achieve this goal, as he is keen to emphasise.

Gustafsson said, “At Zebra, we believe data is perishable. Its value is time-sensitive and has a limited shelf life. Businesses must make sense of data before it expires. However, enterprises are losing valuable insights as there are many disjointed sources generating and collecting data on their own, contributing to only bits and pieces of the big picture, instead of rendering a broad view. Decoding these data collected through IoT-enabled devices and wearables will help companies accelerate their decision-making processes and make more informed business decisions.”

“According to IDC, every person online will create 1.7 megabytes of new data every second by 2020. At this rate, the concept of “perishable data” is more relevant than ever. We see that one of the challenges next year will be for businesses to translate captured data into actionable insights as fast as they can.”

“Furthermore, the future of connection known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is already here. Enterprises will spend $235 billion this year to connect devices to the IoT, Gartner estimates. That’s up 22% from 2015.”

“Overall, the greatest challenge in our increasingly connected world is successfully adopting and leveraging new technology to provide operational efficiency and agility in real-time. Despite the potential that IoT presents, it is only with the proper set of enabling technologies that enterprises can extract the full value from their IoT investments. Zebra is helping enterprises adopt a more dynamic workflow through IoT-centric sensor technology, powerful cloud computing software, and connected enterprise-class mobile computers.

The IoT has enabled everything from improved efficiency for global shipping networks to devices that receive environmental feedback from home appliances and minimize their energy use. Thousands of new use cases are in development right now such as smart toothbrushes and intelligent can openers. The good news is many organisations already have the building blocks in place to digitise their operations.”

Therefore, in order build upon this success, over the coming years Zebra will continue to work toward realizing its company’s vision to create a smarter, more connected global business community, together with its partners, to offer better operational visibility to enterprises around the world.

Focuses will include converting the physical to the digital, giving businesses insights into the location, motion and state of their assets, people and transactions and then harnessing this new wave of technology with Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI). EAI refers to a businesses’ ability to obtain real-time visibility into every aspect of its operations, enabling them to improve productivity, reduce expenses, empower mobile workforces and increase opportunities for sustainable growth.


Company: Zebra Technologies Web Address: www.zebra.com

The Cutting Edge of Finance and Technology
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

The Cutting Edge of Finance and Technology

The reporting and analytics team at Qtrade is the other half of the finance team along with the corporate accounting team. While each team has their core responsibilities, the two teams are tied at the hip and have a reliance upon each for information and data exchange.

As previously mentioned, Qtrade is multi-entity, multi-line of business corporation that offers a variety of solutions
along the wealth continuum. While each line of business is focused on their own activities, it is up to the reporting and
analytics team not to only provide reporting and analytics to the individual entities, but also provide key, critical corporate data and maintain a holistic view of Qtrade.

At most firms, the role of Business Intelligence (‘BI’) usually falls under the realm of IT. BI is traditionally an IT based function that consists of databases and technical based employees who use databases to create code to produce reports for business users. While the technical employee is familiar with the data and producing code, it is the business users who provide most of the analysis and vetting of the output. However, in 2015 Qtrade essentially created a new reporting and analytics department under the CFO to take over the BI function. It is my honour and responsibility to lead this team.

At Qtrade, BI is part of the reporting and analytics team, meaning that unlike most firms it is a finance function and not an IT function. In order to accomplish this goal of moving the BI function to finance two things had to occur; first an investment in technology and second, creating a team of financially based analysts who could not only perform the analysis, but write the code to draw upon the data themselves.

For the technology part, Qtrade has created a SQL based data warehouse. While data warehousing is not unique or proprietary to Qtrade, it is an evolutionary step forward for the firm. The challenge with being a multi-line of business firm is that many of the lines of businesses have their own or multiple pieces of software that are used during the course of the day, all containing data. While the data warehouse is now functional at Qtrade, we are still adding new data sources to it. At Qtrade we have identified 26 disparate systems of data we will be incorporating into the data warehouse to provide a single source of information for the whole firm.

Combining these disparate data sources, of which two are the finance database and the ERP into one centralised system allows the reportingand analytics team to create some very thorough financial analysis oftrades, assets, clients, lines of business etc. to create new holistic reports,channel profitability statements, an A to Z cost per trade analysis and so on.

These are items Qtrade would not have been able to produce without this new team. The team does not have to go looking for information, we are the single, central point of data and information. We ensure that when there is a report, a KPI, a data point, that it should only be provided by reporting and analysis to create reporting and data integrity across the firm. In too many firms, and historically Qtrade was no exception, you had multiple people producing similar reports with inconsistent output. At Qtrade we are well down the path to eliminating this.

While the reporting and analytics team does have a technical resource on it to maintain the ETL’s and databases, the rest of the team are finance based analysts who have the ability to code. The team has a mixture of finance, economics and statistical undergraduates and almost every member of the team has or is pursuing a financial designation such as the CPA, CFA and MBA. At Qtrade, we expect that our financial analysts to be fluent in coding and be able to talk about such items as data fields and schemas as well as profitability and gross margins. At Qtrade we firmly believe we are the new breed of financial analysts where finance and IT crossover. We are a hybrid of finance and IT.

By being a hybrid of IT and finance, this creates many opportunities for Qtrade, not the least being efficiencies. By being the familiar with the source data and also being financially savvy, it reduces the amount of back and forth between the end business user for who the reporting and analytics is being created for. However, since the analyst can do both the coding and analysis and is familiar with not only that particular line of business, but what is happening corporate wide, it allows the analyst to provide additional insight to the request. It also allows the team to create their own analytics to support both the CFO and CEO. We turn data into information that decisions can be made on.

The hiring challenge for Qtrade is to find this unique set of individuals, who also possess soft skills such as customer service as the team does see itself as a customer service team to both our B2B partners and internal customers. However, we hold the firm belief that in 10 years from now the hybrid analyst will become the industry standard and we here at Qtrade are trying to be on the cutting edge of creating the new hybrid world of finance and technology!

Name: Gregory Hood
Company: Qtrade Financial Group
Email: [email protected]

World-Class Quality Services
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

World-Class Quality Services

Swiss International is a financial services company that facilitates the entire process of participating in global financial markets. Being an integrated service provider – they cover the entire process from ‘research and advisory’ services – to the ultimate ‘execution and clearing’ of a transaction. In a special interview, the firm’s Ahmad Shibley reveals more about the world-class quality services they provide for their clients’, and their unrivalled reach into global markets. The firm is both an asset management company and a finance Boutique with exciting plans and high hopes for the future.

We have worked hard to put together a highly-qualified team of professionals, from the most junior sales executive to the senior management. A cosmopolitan culture consisting of people from various cultural, social and professional backgrounds allows us to interact with and accommodate effectively clients with differing backgrounds and expectations. Some of the most respected and highly renowned names in the country provide the backing and support to our company, which lends us the highest level of recognition socially and professionally.

What specific areas does your firm specialise in?
Our reach in global markets is unrivalled in the local markets by providing brokerage accounts for clients to execute their trades. Our coverage includes most geographical and product markets. From simple currency
crosses in the spot market to the complexities of the derivatives market, we deal across the spectrum. The products/markets that we currently offer work on the principle of ‘leveraged trading’ (leverage means trading
with a face value much larger than the amount provided upfront as a deposit/security) and this leads to unmatchable rates of returns.

Whatever and wherever clients want to trade, our trading platforms offer unparalleled access to the most liquid financial markets in the world. Online and mobile trading services ensure that you are never more than a click or two away from the client’s next trade.

How does your firm stand out from the crowd in these competitive times?
We are continuously working on developing our IT infrastructure 24/7, we have a specialised IT team of about 15 individuals from various IT backgrounds, all of whom work nonstop to improve and introduce new products to our clients. In the world of finance, IT is crucial to ensure that we can offer services to clients and meet their expectations. We have recently launched our new client onboarding and management platform, called ‘Private Cabinet’ which has improved the effectiveness and speed of client onboarding on a real-time basis.

Hence clients can open up an account online from anywhere in the world, and have it approved in real time and fund their account in real time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This has proved to be very successful with many of our clients who come from a variety backgrounds and cultures, since our ‘Private Cabinet’ product is available in several languages. Through this product, our clients can also open real-time sub accounts, carry out internal transfers (real-time) and perform withdrawals and funding. Clients can also try out our ‘Private Cabinet’ by visiting my.swissfs.com (which is mobile friendly and we will soon be launching an app on smart phones platforms, but trading platforms are already available as an app). Technology is therefore our backbone and it as what we work on to give us a competitive edge against others in the market.

How does it feel to have won the award Asset Manager of the Year 2016?
It feels great to have been nominated, and indeed to win this prestigious award! This will give the whole team here much motivation to work even harder and to achieve other awards too. The asset management side of the business here is a fairly new division, because our core focus and strength is on providing clients that want to trade international markets with a brokerage account, and we have provided such a platform for over 15 years. While this had been the firm’s core focus, a few years ago, we started received queries from existing and new clients asking about managed accounts, because they did not have the time to trade on their own or the experience to do so.

How is your company performing at present?
The company is currently in its growth stage and we are expanding to other countries and regions, indeed we are really excited about our expansion progress and we will soon open up two new offices in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh and Jeddah. On a personal level, my focus is on leading the expansion strategy that has been approved by the board here.

Can you tell me about your own role in the firm as CEO, and the reputation you have gained for providing your clients innovative and successful money management and advisory services?
I am currently the CEO of Swiss International Financial Brokerage Co, having been a founder of the company. Since its inception in 2001, I have worked in all the departments from back office to sales and so on. As the CEO, my overall focus is on the achieving the goals set by the board, whilst at the same time achieving full client satisfaction.
As for providing our clients with innovative new products, we recently launched our Emerald Fund Managed Account Program in 2016. It has proved to be an instant hit with our clients. Having achieving above average returns, whilst at the same time reducing the risk and overall exposure. The program is managed by one of our expert fund managers, who has over 22 years’ experience as a trader.

Can you provide some more insight into the Emerald Fund Managed Account Program?
Emerald Currency Fund offers investors the opportunity to invest directly in the FX Market and potentially benefit when this decreases or increases in value, relative to others. ECF is actively managed on a day-to-day basis and may hold long and short positions in up to twenty currency pairs. The fund is a combination of long-term trend trading and day trading, based on intraday volatility. ECF team has been testing different trading strategies for years and has built the model that consists of our best strategies, which combine long and short term trading.

We have a dedicated trading team who work around the clock – monitoring our trades, positions and model and adjust parameters – based on the expectation, news or any possible shock to market. Moreover, we collaborate with a team of analysts that are feeding our trading desk with exclusive research and potential moves in the currency market, based on fundamentals.

What role the staff play in the success of your company?
First of all, we are proud of our people, and secondly the technology we use. I believe that one does not work without the other. Indeed, it is our people who create growth, builds value and the overall growth that we have achieved. Our staff come from a variety of different cultures, something that brings more tolerance and understanding of each other, because the staff spend more time with colleagues their families at times. We are therefore proud of the firm’s culture and are continuously working on improving the human capital aspect of our work.

What challenges and opportunities do you and your company face in the future?
Swiss International Financial Brokerage’s most important challenge is always working around the clock to beat our current technology and outpace the market with new and exciting developments. Our second challenge is that along with our expansion into new markets, we have had to work with new regulations that are sometimes more like a barrier to entry into such new markets. As for opportunities in the future, with our expansion into new markets we are working to turn the firm into a publicly listed company that the employees can have a percentage ownership into the company that they helped to build, hence working harder!

Is there anything you would like to add?
Just a reminder to our readers is that Swiss Finance is not just an asset management company, but it is also a finance boutique. The company is actually a brokerage house with an asset management department. Hence, we essentially provide a one-stop-shop to all our financial needs and requirements. I would be always more than happy to be answer any questions your readers may have and they can get in touch at any time by using the contact information below.

Company: SWISS INTL. FINANCIAL BROKERAGE CO. K.S.C.C.
Name: Ahmad Shibley
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.swissfs.com
Telephone: +965-22020490

UK House Price Index for October 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

UK House Price Index for October 2016

The October data shows an annual price increase of 6.9% which takes the average property value in the UK to £216,674. Monthly house prices have risen by 0.1% since September 2016. The monthly index figure for the UK was 113.6.

In England, the October data shows an annual price increase of 7.4% which takes the average property value to £232,655. Monthly house prices fell by 0.1% since September 2016.

Wales shows an annual price increase of 4.4% which takes the average property value to £147,065. Monthly house prices have risen by 1% since September 2016.

London shows an annual price increase of 7.7% which takes the average property value to £474,475. Monthly house prices fell by 1.2% since September 2016.

The regional data indicates that:

– the East of England experienced the greatest increase in its average property value over the last 12 months with a movement of 12.3%;
– the East of England also experienced the greatest monthly growth with an increase of 1.3%;
– the North East saw the lowest annual price growth with an increase of 2.7%;
– the North East also saw the most significant monthly price fall with a movement of -1.3%.

Home sales in the UK increased by 1.0% between September and October. Compared with October 2015 the level of home sales in October 2016 is 8.0% lower. See the economic statement.

Sales during August 2016, the most up-to-date Land Registry figures available, show that:

– the number of completed house sales in England fell by 20.3% to 67,396 compared with 84,565 in August 2015;
– the number of completed house sales in Wales fell by 11.6% to 3,558 compared with 4,025 in August 2015;
– the number of completed house sales in London fell by 39.3% to 6,607 compared with 10,881 in August 2015;
– there were 514 repossession sales in England in August 2016;
– there were 45 repossession sales in Wales in August 2016;
– the lowest number of repossession sales in England and Wales in August 2016 was in the East of England.

Access the full October UK HPI. For more information, click here.

FCA Publishes Interim Feedback on Review of the Rules for Crowdfunding
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

FCA Publishes Interim Feedback on Review of the Rules for Crowdfunding

Based on a review of the feedback received, issues seen during the supervision of crowdfunding platforms currently trading and consideration of applications from firms seeking full authorisation, the FCA believes it is appropriate to modify a number of rules for the market.

Initial findings

Loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding

For both loan-based and investment-based crowdfundingplatforms they have found that, for example:

• It is difficult for investors to compare platforms with each other or to compare crowdfunding with other asset classes due to complex and often unclear product offerings;
• It is difficult for investors to assess the risks and returns of investing on a platform;
• Financial promotions do not always meet their requirement to be ‘clear, fair and not misleading’ and;
• The complex structures of some firms introduce operational risks and/or conflicts of interest that are not being managed sufficiently.

Loan-based crowdfunding

In the loan-based crowdfunding market in particular they are concerned that, for example:
• Certain features, such as some of the provision funds used by platforms, introduce risks to investors that are not adequately disclosed and may not be sufficiently understood by investors;
• The plans some firms have for wind-down in the event of their failure are inadequate to successfully run-off loan books to maturity and;
• The FCA have challenged some firms to improve their client money handling standards.
Proposals for new rules to be considered in Q1 2017
The FCA plan to consult on additional rules in a number of areas. These include more prescriptive requirements on the content and timing of disclosures by both loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms.

For loan-based crowdfunding, the FCA also intend to consult on:
• Strengthening rules on wind-down plans;
• Additional requirements or restrictions on cross-platform investment and;
• Extending mortgage-lending standards to loan-based platforms.

The FCA’s current rules on loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms came into force in April 2014. They aimed to create a proportionate regulatory framework that provided adequate investor protection whilst allowing for innovation and growth in the market.

The call for input in July 2016 launched a post-implementation review of these rules. The paper summarised market developments since 2014 and some of the FCA’s emerging concerns. 

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA said, “our focus is ensuring that investor protections are appropriate for the risks in the crowdfunding sector while continuing to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. Based on our findings to date, we believe it is necessary to strengthen investor protection in a number of areas. We plan to consult next year on new rules to address the issues we have identified.”

Further work

Their on-going research and investigatory work should be completed early in 2017. At that stage, the FCA will complete the post-implementation review and determine whether further consultation on rule changes is needed.
Responding to his update from the FCA on proposed new rules for the crowdfunding sector, RSM financial services partner Damian Webb commented, “The increased focus and oversight in the peer to peer sector has to be welcomed.

The peer to peer sector has grown exponentially over the past five years, from small start-ups we now have large established financial institutions. The sector has benefitted from the “light touch” approach previously adopted by the FCA but noting the current and forecast scale of these institutions it is only right that the FCA looks to bring the sector in line with existing regulations and best practice.

“There is a real risk that in the absence of the FCA regularising the sector, practices could emerge which undermine the position of investors. Any fall-out could fundamentally undermine our growing FinTech sector and undermine the UK’s reputation for financial probity.”

November Winners’ Directory
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

November Winners’ Directory

International Real Estate Excellence
Company: Angels Sales and Lettings
Name: Prem Singh
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.angelshomes.co.uk
Address: 184 Hertford Road, Enfield EN3 5AZ
Telephone: 44 (0)208 443 1000

UK Corporate Excellence
Company: LED Eco Lights Ltd
Name: Sophia Burr
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.ledecolights.com
Address: Unit 7, J4 Camberley, 15 Doman Road, Camberley, Surrey
GU15 3LB
Telephone: 01276 691 230

Money Management Awards
Company: MacIntyre Hudson
Name: Holly Brookes
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.macintyrehudson.co.uk
Address: 201 Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9 1LZ
Telephone: 01908 662255

UK Regional 2016 – Recognised Excellence in Open Source Solutions
Company: OpusVL
Name: Stuart J Mackintosh
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: http://opusvl.com/
Address: Drury House, Drury Lane, Rugby,
Warwickshire, CV21 3DE
Telephone: 01788 298 450

70% of Students Are Already 'Skint' and Living in Their Overdraft
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

70% of Students Are Already ‘Skint’ and Living in Their Overdraft

1 in 5 prospective students expected to be financially stable with no money worries at all, yet a huge 70% label already themselves as skint and already in their overdrafts.

Interestingly, prospective students shared that they expected their parents to support them financially each month, contributing on average £179 every four weeks to fund their wild and wonderful lifestyle. However, the reality data shows that 50% of students receive nothing!

Those that do get financial help from their parents receive on average £2568 a year (£214 a month). With an estimated 1.1 million students in the UK, and 50% of those receive help… the total amount coming from banks of mums and dads across totals to £1.4 billion per year.

The average student spends £65.70 a month on food, £354 a month on rent, £93.50 a month on bills, £38.50 a month on travel, £62 a month of beauty/fashion treats, and £64.50 on getting drunk and partying.

With total outgoings of around £678.20 a month but an average income as a student of £469 a month – there’s no doubt that 70% of students are already in their overdrafts

Despite the struggles, 53% of UK students don’t work whilst at University.

44% of students said they spent the majority of their money in fresher’s week on rent however a huge 42% said going out was their priority during fresher’s. 18% of students threw their money straight into a shopping trip during fresher’s week and 2% booked a holiday.

14% of students have a credit card as well as their loan to ensure they can make the most of their time living away from home.

Living costs across the UK of course vary meaning the cost of being a student (income vs outgoings) are different for each region.

The Reality of a Student House

When it comes to student housing, the majority of current students live in a run-down house shared with complete strangers. A huge 95% of students expected to live in a warm house – however, just 5% enjoy such a luxury. 15% of students can’t afford to heat their homes throughout winter, and, because of this, 1 in 5 live in a house that suffers with mould. It was found that many choose to sleep in numerous jumpers just to keep warm.

Case study, Robert from York St Johns, lived in a corridor with a bed sheet as a curtain for 12 months to evade sky high renting costs in the city. Read about his experience here.

Students were found to spend just £16.40 on their weekly shop with 1 in 4 expecting to share meals with everyone in the house, cooking large batches to make it cheaper per head. However, a huge 70% of students said they don’t share their food and 18% even admitted to arguing over cupboard and fridge space.

1 in 3 expected to lose weight as a student, but the majority don’t! On average each student adds 14lb to their waistline. However, this can’t be blamed on an increase in takeaways – as a huge 36% said they can’t even afford one!

Reality of Life after Graduation

Expectations of life after graduation are a bit more realistic! Just 16% of students expect to graduate with a first class degree, the majority expect to have a salary of less than £15,000 a year and just 12% of students expect to own their own house once they finish.

The reality data of life after graduation shows that the majority (42%) graduate with a 2:1, interestingly the average student moves onto a post-grad salary of £24,498.35 a year.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for some! More than 1 in 4 graduates move back in with mum and dad and their dreams of travelling the world before starting their career are diminished!

Explore the full study here.

Asia Plantation Capital Expands its Horizons
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Asia Plantation Capital Expands its Horizons

Award-winning plantation management company Asia Plantation Capital held its Thailand Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 21 October 2016, at the Renaissance Bangkok, Thailand. Asia Plantation Capital is delighted to announce that despite the slowdown in global economic activity, its revenues grew 6% in Thailand and similarly increased by around 4.5% in Singapore in FY2015.

Addressing the crowd of 300 Thailand-based plantation owners and stakeholders, Mr. Barry Rawlinson, Chief Executive Officer of the APC Group, opened the AGM by detailing how the company expanded its horizons with exponential growth throughout 2016, despite facing several challenges. Mr. Rawlinson also spoke about the ongoing effects of climate change in the agriculture sector, and how the company has worked tirelessly to address the relevant issues and mitigate the negative effects.

Asia Plantation Capital remains steadfast to its ethos of ‘holistic sustainability’. Throughout 2016, the company has embraced programmes and directives that are more than mere Corporate Social Responsibility projects, ensuring that equal care, consideration and encouragement are given to all members of staff — from top and middle management all the way through to plantation workers and their families.

Jinda Tonkhambai outlined the details of past projects, as well as those that have been carried out over the last year, from which many local communities have benefited. Asia Plantation Capital’s projects have focused on local infrastructure – such as schools and places of worship – improving the lives of all the people who live in and work around the company’s areas of operation.
Three 4th year students from the Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, were also presented with scholarships at the meeting, comprising the payment of tuition fees of up to THB 150,000 over the course of four years.

In light of the company’s ongoing expansion and the additional plantations that are needed to meet the growing demand for products, Phanitta Matwangsaeng from General Administration, updated attendees on the processes and due diligence carried out prior to the purchase of land. Technical details, such as the land designing process, plot diagrams, water systems, and tree management systems, were also further explained by architect, Phoom Matwangsaeng.

Nadiah Abdullah, Operations Manager, presented the significant milestones that have been reached this year on behalf of Asia Plantation Capital Berhad (APCB) – the Malaysian arm of the APC Group – with the emphasis placed on the major joint ventures that have been entered into, as well as the breakthroughs that were made in research and development.

The factory – the largest agarwood distillery in Southeast Asia – now sees some new manufacturing processes, as well as an expanded nursery facility and a laboratory with state of the art equipment to monitor oil quality and production methods.

One of the most significant achievements for APCB has been the recent recognition and unconditional approval of its products by the SSM (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia) which is Malaysia’s equivalent to the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore), and the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in the UK.

Experts in the field, Robin Jewer – Agricultural Director, and Boonchuay Jomkhamsee – Forestry Specialist, provided information on the current state of Asia Plantation Capital’s plantations that were affected by excessive rainfall, along with the measures that were taken to deal with erratic weather patterns. For example; all company plantations now manage the risk by using rain gauges and moisture measuring metres to ensure that a tree has access to just the right amount of water. This in turn, significantly reduces water usage, as well as the power that is required to pump water.

Special Scientific Advisor and Associate professor, Dr Pakamas Chetpattanondh, from the Prince of Songkla University, also presented the audience with her ongoing research on the medicinal and healing benefits of Oud oil – specifically regarding its anti-ageing properties and its potential efficacy in treating various forms of cancer.

Described as ‘the miracle plant’, Asia Plantation Capital is now heavily invested in bamboo as another ‘agrocrop’ in which the group of companies perceives a great deal of potential. As yet another part of the group’s commitment to securing innovative, sustainable, commercial solutions and new technologies, it is supporting Boo-Tex™, which is developing a new range of luxury bamboo fabrics for the fashion and sportswear industries. Mr Roger Hargreaves, Chairman of Asia Plantation Capital Thailand, took the opportunity to update the attendees on the exciting developments in the sector and provided a comprehensive overview of the ever-expanding commercial bamboo landscape. 

The audience was also given updates on French, niche, luxury perfume house, Fragrance Du Bois, by Clotilde Antoine, Brand and Retail Manager. The young and innovative brand scaled new heights this year with new partnerships being forged, and openings in Paris, Hong Kong, Milan, Marbella, and its very own European flagship boutique in Geneva.
Additionally, the brand also decided to widen and augment its portfolio of products with the introduction and launch of an alcohol-free ‘Lite Attars’ collection and ‘Nature’s Treasures’ – an original collection of hand-blended, non-Oud based perfumes, using only natural ingredients of the finest quality.

Asia Plantation Capital also announced that it will be entering into exclusive ‘off-take’ agreements with Fragrance Du Bois and a to-be-announced beauty and personal care company – ultimately increasing the demand for the Oud supplied by Asia Plantation Capital, and further securing the end market for Asia Plantation Capital produced agarwood products.
It was also revealed during the meeting that the Asia Plantation Distilleries ‘super distilleries’ are expected to be fully operational by the year 2020.

In his closing speech, APC Group’s CEO, Barry Rawlinson said, “2016 has been an exceptionally good year for all of us at Asia Plantation Capital, as we have reaped the rewards that have accrued from the ‘hard yards’ and the long hours we have put in. Despite the challenges we have faced, we have managed to ensure that performance, growth and momentum across all regions have been maintained.”

Rawlinson concluded, “On behalf of the company, I would like to thank all our stakeholders, shareholders and every member of staff for their contribution and support. These are exciting times for our company, and you can rest assured that as stakeholders, we have your best interests in our hearts and minds, as well as at the forefront of each and every decision that we make.”

Three New Brands to Cape Town
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Three New Brands to Cape Town

The world’s leading hotel company, Marriott International, Inc, today announced plans for the construction of three new hotel properties in Cape Town, in partnership with the Amdec Group.

Marriott International Introduces Three New Brands to Cape Town. Shown: Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch

These will be three new hotels in the city: one under the company’s signature brand, Marriott Hotels®, which will be the first Marriott Hotel in Cape Town; the second under the upscale extended stay brand, Residence Inn by Marriott®, the first for South Africa; and the third the upper-moderate tier lifestyle brand, AC Hotels by Marriott®, which is the first hotel under this brand for the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region.

These three planned developments will add over 500 rooms to Cape Town’s hotel accommodation offering. Bringing 189 additional rooms to Cape Town, the AC Hotel Cape Town waterfront will be located at The Yacht Club in the Roggebaai precinct at the gateway to Cape Town’s waterfront, while at Harbour Arch (the current Culemborg node), currently the location of several major construction projects, will be the site of the 200-room Cape Town Marriott Hotel Foreshore and the 150-room Residence Inn by Marriott Cape Town Foreshore.

This announcement is an extension of Marriott’s existing partnership with the Amdec Group, initiated in 2015 with the announcement of the development of the first two Marriott branded hotels in South Africa. These two properties, situated in the popular upmarket Melrose Arch Precinct in Johannesburg, are scheduled to open in 2018, and are the Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch and the Marriott Executive Apartments Johannesburg Melrose Arch.

Amdec’s total investment in these Cape Town and Johannesburg developments amounts to over R3 billion between the two cities which will have positive economic spinoffs and a massive impact on job creation.

The new developments bolster Marriott International’s robust growth strategy across the MEA region, which is geared to expand the global group as a leading travel company both within the region and internationally. According to Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International, Inc., “Africa is particularly important to Marriott International’s expansion strategy because of the continent’s rapid economic growth, expanding middle class and youth population, as well as the increase of international flights into the continent. With over 850 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are enormous opportunities.”

Marriott International’s growth plans for the continent are impressive: by 2025 the company aims to expand its current presence in Africa to 27 countries, with over 200 hotels and around 37,000 rooms.

As for South Africa, Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa for Marriott International, comments that, “The significance of this announcement for both the city of Cape Town and for South Africa cannot be underestimated. The developments in both Cape Town and Johannesburg confirm the country’s importance to the international travel market – for both the business and leisure traveler. From the perspective of tourism, the addition of three hotels in Cape Town, catering for different market segments among both international and domestic visitors, will strengthen the position of the city as one of the world’s top destinations, and we are confident that Cape Town will gain huge benefits from the likely increase in visitor numbers expected in the future.”

James Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of the Amdec Group, says: “Marriott’s new hotels will become landmarks in South Africa and appeal to travellers from all over the country, the continent and the world. We are proud to develop world-class properties in both Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Melrose Arch in Johannesburg is well established as a magnificent multi-faceted New Urban quarter focussed on creating an unforgettable experience with a vibrant atmosphere in a secure environment where people can work, shop, relax and stay. Amdec is thrilled to continue our growing partnership with Marriott International in Cape Town where The Yacht Club will offer an exclusive urban experience in an energised precinct on a working harbour superbly connected to all the buzz of city living in a location steeped in history. In addition we are delighted to be constructing two new hotels at Harbour Arch (on the current Culemborg node) where we hope to replicate the magical atmosphere experienced at Melrose Arch. Melrose Arch, The Yacht Club, and Harbour Arch are all perfect locations for Marriott’s first hotel properties in South Africa.”

It is anticipated that, during the construction phase, approximately 8 000 construction related jobs will be created. Once the hotels are completed, over 700 new hospitality jobs will be created – 470 in the three new Cape Town hotels and 320 in Johannesburg.

Cape Town’s importance in the world tourist market has been confirmed in recent years with the ever-increasing visitor numbers to the city. The addition of further accommodation to meet the growing demand will place the city in an even stronger position as a top global destination.

Rexel Launches a New Employee Share Purchase Plan in 14 Countries
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Rexel Launches a New Employee Share Purchase Plan in 14 Countries

Rexel, a global leader in the professional distribution of products and services for the energy world, announces the launch of a new employee share purchase plan, entitled Opportunity16, through which its employees will have the opportunity to acquire shares in the company by participating in a capital increase under preferential conditions.

This offering will be open to nearly 90% of the Rexel Group’s employees, covering 14 countries[1]. In most of the eligible countries, subscription will be through employee shareholding funds (“fonds communs de placement d’entreprise”, or “FCPE”) that received approval from the “Autorité des Marchés Financiers” (“AMF”) on June 17, 2016.

Eligible employees will be able to purchase shares at a price of € 11.08[2] per share, corresponding to a subscription price equal to 80% of the average opening price of the Rexel share on the Euronext Paris stock exchange over the 20 trading days preceding September 5, 2016. The Opportunity16 subscription period will begin on September 12 and end on September 26, 2016 (inclusive).

This new employee share purchase plan is the fifth such plan launched by Rexel following those offered in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Employee shareholding is a key component of its corporate culture and with Opportunity16, Rexel aims to actively engage its employees in its strategic roadmap as key contributors to the Group’s growth.

ExpressBusinessLoans.com Offers Emergency Funding
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

ExpressBusinessLoans.com Offers Emergency Funding

 Small businesses affected by Hurricane Matthew are advised that the Disaster Assistance Express Small Business Loan is currently offering funding in 24 – 48 hours. ExpressBusinessLoans.com will be processing applications starting October 7th for the next 30 days. There is no application fee and no down payment required. The application and supporting documents required can be submitted online.

Hurricane Matthew is making steady progress towards the Florida coast and is expected to make landfall at late October 6th. Hurricane Matthew’s path is projected to wreak havoc along the east coast for the rest of the week with wind speeds reaching up to 140 MPH. This will be the strongest hurricane to make landfall since Hurricane Andrew, which inflicted nearly $46 billion in inflation adjusted damage.

Unlike the SBA disaster loan programs, the Express Business Loan has no use restrictions and can be used to expand your business. No collateral is required. Insurance proceeds that result from Hurricane Matthew are not required to be applied toward the repayment of your loan balance. Personal financial statements are not required for approval or loan disbursement. Terms are available up to 3 years. Certain programs will require no personal guaranty.

ExpressBusinessLoans.com wishes that the small businesses and communities affected by Hurricane Matthew are able to recover quickly.

US Labor Market May Be Entering a Weaker Growth Phase
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

US Labor Market May Be Entering a Weaker Growth Phase

Following a 167,000 job gain in August, the economy generated 156,000 jobs in September.

September’s steady but unspectacular employment numbers suggest that the combination of tight labor markets, falling profits, and higher wages may slow job growth in the coming months, but the news is not all negative. Though the unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.0 percent, this is largely due to rising labor force participation. Wages have now grown by 2.6 percent during the past year. A combination of more confident workers and still risk averse firms is making it increasingly difficult for businesses to find the right workers at the right price.

One possible bright spot could come from the mining industry which was unchanged this month after two years of continued job losses. Higher oil prices, which the recently announced OPEC deal is helping to sustain, could lead drillers to reengage.

The continued weakness in manufacturing may generate headlines among political pundits, but even in Midwestern swing states like Ohio and Michigan, health sector workers outnumber manufacturing ones.

The chances of a Fed rate hike in December may have declined in response to the slowing pace of job growth, but this still remains the likely scenario.

TheStreet Partners with Amazon
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

TheStreet Partners with Amazon

TheStreet, Inc, a leading financial news and information company, recently announced it is teaming up with Amazon to make its content available on all Alexa-enabled devices.

Once users enable TheStreet in the Alexa Skills Store, they will have access to the latest financial news headlines at any time of the day, on any enabled device by simply asking, “Alexa, what’s in the news?”

“This partnership gives TheStreet the opportunity to bring its unparalleled financial reporting and market analysis to new audiences. We’re proud to be content providers to Amazon and look forward to watching this platform grow,” said David Callaway, CEO of TheStreet, Inc.

Watch Jim Cramer, co-founder of TheStreet, Inc. and contributor to TheStreet.com, interact with Amazon Alexa here.

TheStreet, Inc. (www.t.st) is a leading independent digital financial information services company providing business and financial news, investing ideas and analysis to personal and institutional investors worldwide. The Company’s portfolio of business and personal finance brands includes: TheStreet, RealMoney, Action Alerts PLUS and MainStreet. To learn more, visit www.thestreet.com. The Deal, the Company’s institutional business, provides intraday coverage of mergers and acquisitions and all other changes in corporate control, and through its BoardEx product, director and officer profiles. To learn more, visit www.thedeal.com and www.boardex.com. RateWatch provides rate and fee data from banks and credit unions across the U.S. for a wide variety of banking products. To learn more, visit www.rate-watch.com.

Infrastructure Financing
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Infrastructure Financing

2016 marks the successful finish of our first ten-year fund, The South East Asian Strategic Assets Funds, and we have two other funds under management. We are headquartered in Singapore, where we are licenced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and have offices in Malaysia and Indonesia.

CapAsia’s infrastructure Funds intend to offer investors a well-defined investment proposition that is circumscribed by the core investment characteristics of infrastructure. CapAsia is aware that investors in its funds expect investments made by these funds to consistently exhibit specific investment and performance features such as a lower risk/ return profile and current and yield elements that are distinct from those from other alternative asset classes such as buy-out funds and real estate.

In general, it is expected that infrastructure funds offer more downside protection in economic downturns and are less exposed to commercial risk due to the monopolistic nature of the markets in which such companies operate. Equity investments in infrastructure often are further de-risked through current yield returns from dividend payments. Due to the lower risk of the investment, investors should expect lower returns than from alternative assets classes.

In our investment area, infrastructure companies often operate as natural or commercial monopolies due to either regulation or high barriers to entry. As such, the nature of the services provided should involve limited commercial and market risk. Infrastructure companies have long time horizons and are normally capital intensive.

Furthermore, infrastructure investments should offer stable and predictable cash flows that are only to a limited extent affected by downturns in the economic cycle. The stability and predictability of cash flows stem from the natural monopoly character of the infrastructure service provided (for example toll roads or bulk water supply), the stickiness of demand (telecommunication infrastructure) or longer term purchase contracts (power generation but also higher education).

Also, the financial performance of infrastructure investments should display a lower correlation with the macro-economic environment than other alternative assets. Within infrastructure the degree of correlation with the economic cycle differs. Investments in container terminals typically are more leveraged on the economic cycle than, for example, urban toll roads.

Finally, infrastructure investments may have some hedge against inflation or, in the case of emerging markets, foreign exchange risk. On the former, concession contracts may contain tariff escalation mechanisms that allow increases to account for inflation. Further, in emerging markets under local regulation or the terms of a concession, the costs of materially important inputs such as those of internationally traded commodities like fuel stock for thermal power plants or that of hard currency denominated debt, are often allowed to be treated as passthrough costs.

With our flagship fund now finished, our main focus is on our two other funds: the Islamic Infrastructure Fund and the CapAsia ASEAN Infrastructure Fund. Across our funds, we have invested in several countries: Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and across several sectors: thermal power, renewable energy, toll roads, social infrastructure and telecoms infrastructure.

We take great pride in the fact that our first fund was a top performing fund for its 2006 vintage (according to Preqin) and delivered a gross money multiple of 2.3x and net of 1.7x. Gross IRR was 18% in USD. Furthermore, across our second and third funds we manage approximately USD 240m for our institutional investors and our limited partners.

When looking back on our successes to date, we believe that this is primarily due to the fact that we are active investors, and we take our roles on the boards and committees of our portfolio companies very seriously. Moreover, we are based in Asia and have extensive experience in the geographies in which we invest. We also try to take a flexible approach to exits, although most of our exits are through trade sales, we have also been able to exit through the public markets.

In terms of our strategy, we are diversified across several emerging markets, and most of them are investment grade. We believe our markets provide investors with geographic diversification and also exposure to the growth dynamic in these emerging markets. The demographic dividend of our markets is well understood, and the structural shifts to an emerging middle/consumer class, and continuing urbanisation provide significant demand for infrastructure and services. In some of our markets, we are able to be an early mover, such as backing renewable energy projects, and this can allow us to take advantage of attractive economics. In thermal power and transportation, we typically provide expansion or buyout capital to existing assets, where the continued growth in demand provides attractive upside. As for our clients, they are all accredited and qualified institutional investors. These include some of Asia’s leading banks and financial institutions, pension funds and development finance institutions. Looking further into 2016 and beyond, we are very optimistic about the future of our company. We are continuing to deploy capital from our third fund this year, and manage the performance of our existing assets across both of our remaining funds. Only once we are substantially in our third fund will we look to raise additional investment capital, although that is certainly something that we will consider.

Company: CapAsia
Name: Co-CEOs Craig Martin ([email protected]) and
Devarshi Das ([email protected])
Web: www.capasia.com


Why Financial Services Companies Fall Short on Digital
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Why Financial Services Companies Fall Short on Digital

(Above) Richard Coope

When everything feels very complex, it can often pay dividends to focus on the simple basics. So, as the business community begins to soak up the implications of Brexit, one valuable task marketers would do well to concentrate on is auditing the state of their digital presence. At a time when public trust is at a premium, online platforms provide a responsive and easily-accessible channel by which a company can communicate many elements of its operation, and aid in the strengthening of its brand loyalty.

We surveyed digital platforms of all the FTSE250 companies, analysing them for a variety of elements. One of the striking conclusions we came to was how variable the websites of banks and financial services companies are. The sectors as a whole don’t rank well – 10th and 13th respectively, of 14 in total – and while some have excellent sites others leave substantial scope for improvement.

So what divides the great from the not so good? Despite the poor show of the financial services sector as a whole, the websites of three investment management companies are actually in our top ten of sites of FTSE250 companies – Woodford Patient Capital Trust, Rathbone Brothers, and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust.

What these and other top performers like Hays and the Weir Group do well is present a well-integrated picture of their company that feels consistent right across their digital channels. They pick a narrative and then ensure that all the elements support this.

That narrative is often a corporate voice on an issue that is bigger than just their own operations – a societal issue that the organisation can position itself as part of the solution to. For instance, Rathbones enables its customers to ‘help you look forward with confidence’, and its website supports that proposition.

With this strategy arranged, it’s a matter of curating content that always fits within it, in an inventive and creative way. The most impressive corporate websites now look more like that of a magazine publisher, with attractive visual content like that of Sainsbury’s, GSK and AstraZeneca. Indeed, the pharma firms are really displaying the most progressive websites – the latter two pharma giants are also impressive in their creation of genuinely interesting written content.

Integrating social feeds into a site is something that increasing numbers of companies are having the confidence to do – and it pays dividends in terms of projecting a progressive, inclusive attitude. Woodford’s blog includes moderated comments, meaning it retains some control. You can see how engaged its users are by the responses to its Brexit video post.

Site navigation is important to get right so that the user experience is clear and simple. This means working on peppering the site with relevant links to allow the user to move easily between sections, and offering intuitive section headings.

We’ve noticed that the most progressive companies are paying a lot more attention to integrating the investor relations and careers sections of their sites, so that neither of these stakeholders feel as if they are visiting a ‘ghetto’ of the site. Shell and Centrica stand out for the quality of their careers content, with Shell adding interviews with its staff to give potential employees an idea of how it feels to work there.

Similarly, IR sections of the best sites are no longer dull tables of numbers but feature content that makes a more active case for investing in the company. Perhaps unsurprisingly given its controversial ownership, Royal Bank of Scotland’s Investment Case page is a good example.

Like the rest of the business community, financial services companies must be asserting their place in the changed political and economic landscape. The time has never been more appropriate to ensure that digital is pulling its marketing weight.

How Businesses can use data to make cost Savings and Drive Their Enterprise Forward
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

How Businesses can use data to make cost Savings and Drive Their Enterprise Forward

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, once said: “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” She was correct. And we’re here to teach you how to put this theory into practice.

If you’ve never used the data at your fingertips, now is the time to start doing so. An average company will generate raw data from numerous channels, and this can be used to identify any inefficiencies within an organisation. In short, data analysis can help you to make significant cost savings, and ultimately inform decisions and strategies that drive your enterprise forward.

Here are some top tips on putting those numbers to good use and transforming your business from the inside out.

Competitor analysis

The best way to beat the competition is to know exactly what they are doing, and then use that data to improve your own business. Now we’re not talking about turning up as a mystery shopper to their stores. In the modern world, you can do all the competitor analysis you need from the comfort of your own office.

Online traffic

Whilst there isn’t a way to fully uncover every detail of your competitor’s website analytics, there are tools out there to help you access basic information. This can include how high up they rank when searching for a product or service on Google, tracking where their referrals come from and even estimates on their average number of visitors. From there, you can tweak your own website to make it bigger and better. A couple of examples of these tools include Quick Sprout, which uses information from your Google Analytics, and SEMrush, which gives you a comprehensive overview of any website domain you enter.

Social media

Love it or hate it, social media has become one of the most important marketing and advertising tools out there. Take a look at your main competitor’s social media pages and analyse the kind of material they are putting out there, then correlate this with the number of followers to see if it’s attracting people. This will help you determine what kind of material your target audience likes, and then you can start to tweak your own strategy to find what suits you.

Boost productivity

Ensuring that your employees are working at their very best is incredibly important, and it can help save you a tremendous amount of money. Use data to your advantage to identify where productivity may be lacking.

Whilst we’re not suggesting you track your employees’ every move, which can end up causing feelings of resentment, if you suspect that changes can be made that make you more efficient, suggest that people keep track of their time. Once you identify where time is going, you can make adjustments or introduce processes that make the experience a lot smoother for everyone.

In addition to tracking the amount of time spent on certain tasks, data can also help business owners to identify where time is being wasted just by pure circumstance. Just how efficient and functional is your workspace? Is there one team who spends more time near the printer or the scanner or one who is on the phone more often? As we explain here, changing your office layout can have a drastic effect on productivity and can save you money in the long run.

More targeted marketing campaigns

Businesses that work directly with people, especially retailers, will always be searching for ways to communicate more effectively with their customers. Companies of all shapes and sizes will undoubtedly spend a large amount of their budget on marketing efforts, whether that’s postal, email campaigns or retargeting advertisements on social media. And one of the best ways to both cut costs and potentially increase the number of sales is to create more relevant and targeted marketing.
By using purchase history, you can create unique marketing campaigns to target each of your individual customers. This can range from sending them emails with wardrobe suggestions to complement that pair of shoes they just bought, to sending out coupons for money off the food they buy the most.

Who wouldn’t enjoy walking into their favourite shop and being instantly recognised? The feeling of being welcomed and treated as a unique individual is more likely to have you returning to that store than one who doesn’t remember you at all. By figuring out exactly what makes your customers tick, you’ll work to improve your customer satisfaction and reduce the amount you spend on targeted marketing simultaneously.

Drones are the Future
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Drones are the Future, say two Thirds of Real Estate Businesses

The use and understanding of drones within the real estate industry is in line with the wider views of businesses across a variety of sectors, according to Charles Russell Speechlys’ research. In total, 34% of senior decision makers across businesses in Great Britain said drones are either already in use in their industry, or will be in the future, and, on average, 55% said that they lack knowledge around some of the rules and regulations surrounding the technology.

In response to the findings, Charles Russell Speechlys is calling for greater clarity and education surrounding drone law, to help businesses realise the benefits of the technology, without exposing themselves to risk.

The firm has also launched a new report to help businesses understand the legal issues they should be aware of when using drones.

Emma Humphreys, Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, specialising in property disputes, said:

“Drone technology looks set to take off in the real estate sector, and it appears that it can offer real and profound benefits to the industry.

“However, businesses keen to capitalise on the advantages that drone technology offers must also educate themselves on its responsible use. It is therefore concerning that almost half of real estate businesses surveyed for this report felt they were not knowledgeable about the current rules on drone use.

“But it’s no surprise that businesses do not understand the rules and regulations around drones, as there is currently no clear legal framework to help them. Government must look to help businesses, such as those in the real estate sector, to understand the legal issues around drones by improving the legislative framework which governs their use.”

Investment of over £800
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Investment of over £800,000 Benefits Areas of Waterside, Londonderry

The projects are the refurbished Clooney Community Centre and two play parks, one at Irish Street and the other at Rose Court.

The play parks boast modern, child-friendly and safe play facilities. They include a variety of play equipment catering for different ages and have been designed to promote play and family based activities.

Minister Givan said: “My Department’s investment of £552,450 now means local children have play parks which are inviting, fun and safe spaces to play. The previous facilities at both Rose Court and Irish Street were very dilapidated and no longer fit for purpose. The transformation of these play parks is wonderful and the new facilities will be a great benefit to the local and surrounding communities for many years to come.”

Speaking about the development of the new play parks, Minister Givan said: “These projects are a great example of partnership working between my Department, Derry City & Strabane District Council and local people. I am also delighted that my Department and the Council have been able to progress Currynierin Greenspace to planning stage. By this combined effort we can respond to community need and deliver positive spaces for all.”

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Hilary McClintock says the provision of new play park facilities is hugely significant for the local communities. She said: “The play parks are fantastic and provide state of the art facilities with recreational spaces for those living in the Irish Street and Rose Court areas. I am delighted that the facilities are being utilised by local families in the area and are playing an important role in encouraging young children to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle.Council is delighted to be associated with the project and would like to acknowledge the close working partnership arrangements between the Department, Council and the local community and voluntary sector in successfully bringing these projects to fruition. The provision of quality and accessible play park facilities across our Council area is one of our key objectives and is an important part of our promotion of health and wellbeing in our communities.”

Minister Givan also visited Clooney Community Centre, which has been redeveloped by the Residents Association to upgrade the interior, including improved layout, access and an extended kitchen. The refurbishment ensures all rooms are individually accessible and flexible for a wide range of uses.

The Minister commented: “Clooney Estate Residents Association has received funding of £248,355 through Neighbourhood Renewal to extensively renovate the interior of the Community Centre. It is clear from my visit that this facility provides a community focal point for residents, with a wide range of education and social opportunities available. I am pleased to see they now have the facilities to meet their needs and I am confident the projects and activities on offer can only be enhanced through this investment.”

Betty O’Reilly, Project Manager for Clooney Estate Residents Association said: “The refurbishment of Clooney Community centre has significantly and positively impacted upon our programmes and service delivery. A bright, vibrant and efficient use of the space allows much greater scope for a varied range of programmes and services. It also provides a safe and secure setting for children and young people and an accessible space for all. This is an exciting time for our community and signals the birth of new growth and development in the area.”

Ending the visit, Minister Givan concluded: “By investing in our infrastructure, my Department is investing in the local and surrounding communities of the Waterside and Londonderry. I congratulate everyone involved on the successful completion of these projects, and I am confident the facilities will be greatly appreciated and used by the local people, benefiting the entire community.”

These latest projects are part of an extensive programme of capital investment by the Department for Communities across Neighbourhood Renewal areas in Londonderry, totalling £1.7million in the last year.

Only 5% of UK Businesses are Fully Automated in Their Accounts Payable Processes
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Only 5% of UK Businesses are Fully Automated in Their Accounts Payable Processes

V1 surveyed senior finance and IT professionals across a range of industries to find out about their use of technology. While the vast majority said that their AP processes were still paper-based (48%) or semi-automated (47%), this figure looks set to shrink as 58% are planning to increase automation with a further 39% considering doing so.

According to APQC, a research firm that specialises in benchmarking and performance improvement, labour costs typically consume 62% of total AP costs, due to the need for manual intervention and posting and printing documents. Organisations that automate these processes typically achieve savings of 60-80%.

Janette Martin, Managing Director – V1, says, “Automating tasks such as data capture and invoice approval is proven to generate substantial time and cost savings for businesses, allowing staff to spend more time on adding value.

“With the technology available today, there is no reason for businesses to still rely on manual, paper-based processes, so it is encouraging that 97% are planning on or considering increasing automation in AP processes to unlock efficiencies.”

The survey also revealed that the majority of organisations have yet to introduce mobile technology into the finance function, with only 22% having the capability to perform tasks such as authorising invoices on mobile devices. However, 40% said they were planning to introduce mobile capability in the near future, while 37% said they were considering it.

Greater efficiency was recognised by half of the respondents as the main benefit of using mobile AP processes. Just under a quarter (24%) said that mobile functionality would benefit them by accelerating invoice approvals, with 22% identifying cost-effectiveness as the primary benefit. Other benefits cited in the survey include better compliance, more flexibility and increased productivity.

Martin adds, “Introducing mobile capability can further streamline AP processes and enhance efficiency, particularly when budget holders are spread across different sites or are frequently working on the go.

“Most organisations have yet to embrace mobility in their AP function, but it is certainly becoming more common and our survey highlights that finance departments across all sectors recognise the many benefits and are looking to become more mobile. The way that we work is changing, and mobile working is really a must-have in today’s digital age.”

V1 is a leading supplier of business automation software, providing award-winning document management technology to organisations in both the public and private sector that helps them to streamline their business processes, cut costs, free-up administration time and reduce paper consumption.

For more details,go to: www.wearev1.com

 

What is Happening in UK Commercial Property?
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

What is Happening in UK Commercial Property?

Investor sentiment deteriorated in response to the UK construction outlook survey results in June, which were the weakest since 2009. This was followed by a number of open-ended UK real estate funds suspending trading, in an attempt to halt withdrawals and protect the interests of remaining investors in their respective funds.

Such decisions are not unprecedented. During periods of uncertainty or market stress, open-ended funds have suspended redemptions to protect investors and avoid asset “firesales”. However, actions taken over the last week do have negative connotations associated with the lead up to the last property crash in 2007. The problem, as always, is the liquidity mismatch between liquid investment vehicles and the illiquid bricks and mortar assets into which they invest. The market was already on edge prior to this announcement, and it seems that this event has reaffirmed investors’ fears around a slowdown in UK property.

What is our view looking ahead?

Since the end of last year, we have been consistent in our view that the UK property market was entering the later stage of its post-2008 recovery cycle, especially in highly valued areas such as London and the South East.

Arguably, Brexit has accelerated the cycle further towards the tipping point of a slowdown. Indeed, most commentators are expecting a slowdown in capital values over coming months. Moreover, an uncertain economic environment is likely to lead to businesses holding off investment decisions, which raises questions for the strength of the occupational market and rental demand going forward. It is possible that we could see a double whammy of both capital values and rental growth being hurt.

While we are facing a more uncertain environment in the near term, we do not believe this means that UK property is entering a protracted and deep slowdown such as we saw in 2007. It is important to highlight some key differences between the current market and conditions in 2007:

• Open-ended property funds have greater levels of cash in portfolios today than in 2007 (15-20% in some cases), partly due to regulatory pressure post the financial crisis. In 2007, on the other hand, cash levels were very tight and a lot of open-ended funds were holding what they deemed to be “cash proxies”, such as investment trusts and shares in developers which compounded selling pressure in the sector as a whole.

• Average leverage levels across much of the marketplace are far lower than 2007. One high profile example is the London-based developer Land Securities. Its loan-to-value ratio (a measurement of leverage versus portfolio value) was around 60% in 2007, but is now down at 19%.

• UK banks are also better capitalised which will reduce fears of contagion into the broader market.

Overall, therefore, property funds are generally better capitalized today, with healthier balance sheets, and should be in a stronger position to withstand today’s selling pressure compared with 8 years ago.

What about valuations?

Inevitably, valuations of UK commercial property are becoming more compelling. Several listed investment trusts are trading at discounts anywhere between 20-30% and with yields of between 5-6%. However, there are significant caveats: namely the political uncertainty and downside risks to UK economic growth in the near term. Until the political impasse is resolved, until we see the UK’s economic adjustment making further progress and until we see hard evidence of transactional activity post the referendum result, there is little visibility in the short term around the extent to which capital values could fall further and their subsequent impact on rental growth.

Of course, given the degree of the discounts and shape of the market compared with 2007, this does not preclude us from actively looking at opportunities, especially when it is so hard to find reasonable yields in today’s low interest rate/low growth/low yield world. Indeed, some risks could be mitigated by the ‘lower for longer’ interest rate environment, given that the Bank of England is expected to ease policy this summer. On a longer term view, sterling’s significant devaluation could also attract international buyers into the UK market, as global investors search for higher yielding investments. It should be remembered that despite current political difficulties, the UK’s open, transparent and consistent legal framework stands out compared with other developed economies.

Are we doing anything?

We have been gradually reducing property through the year, though not just in response to Brexit but also to reflect a maturing UK property cycle. We hold select exposure to areas of the marketplace that we expect to benefit from rising rental income due to supply constraints and low vacancy rates, such as regional offices and industrials, and have broadened our exposure outside of London to other key UK cities.

UK property contends with a number of headwinds and we are actively searching out areas of opportunity in the context of market falls. In our view, it is still too early to assess the impact of Brexit on property prices, particularly as we have yet to see the impact on transaction activity following the referendum result. The market is trying to evaluate a fair price but until we see actual property deals being done, nothing is certain. We remain cautious on UK property given recent developments, but also recognise that we are reaching more attractive levels that could present opportunities further out.

For futher information, please visit: Heartwood Investment Management 

Business Elite 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite 2016

 

Our company was established in 1983, and today we have offices in Kingston, Surbiton, Tolworth and New Malden. We cater for a highly diverse range of clients, ranging from first time buyers to the elderly. As such, we deal with clients in different ways, tailoring to their specific wants and needs. Alongside this, we use smart thinking and cutting- edge technology to keep our clients up-to-date with their property sale & purchase.

Added to our expertise, we work with Move With Us, who are a national network of carefully selected independent estate agents working together to ensure a ‘best in class’ service to the public. As active agents of the network, our members pride themselves on building loyal, reputable and professional local businesses that depend greatly on the quality of service they provide to their clients. This involves raising our standards every day, and we do this by ensuring that our staff are regularly trained and fully qualified in estate agency practice and customer service.

As you can imagine, keeping up to speed is incredibly important in the real estate industry. As demand soars and supply remains tight, the average price of a property coming to market in England and Wales has passed £300,000 for the first time. As a result, we need to keep up with the demand from our buyers with the intention of gaining new properties to sell. Challenges facing both first-time buyers and those trading up are highlighted by the fact that the average price has increased by 50% in just 10 years. Moreover, affordability constraints are further emphasised when considering that the average wage growth has only grown by 22% over the last 10 years. We need to help our buyers secure mortgages and have enlisted top quality mortgage advisers to implement this.

As well as catering to the needs of our customers, we believe that it is also important to give back to our community too. We work closely with the local community and we have a close relationship with the schools that we sponsor including Coombe Girls, Grand Avenue, Tolworth Infants and Juniors. We are also the main sponsors for Our Lady Immaculate School.

Furthermore, we are sponsoring a new local group called “Express”, who are a non-profit community organisation based in the borough of Kingston Upon Thames who support people with autism. More specifically, we regularly sponsor the comedy nights at the local Cornerhouse Theatre in Surbiton which are organised in aid of the group.

Additionally, we are keen competitors for the annual Dragon Boat Challenge at Canbury Gardens, Kingston. This initiative supports some of our favourite charities, including Cancer research UK and The Friends of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, which is a military charity that has been set up by the Regiment to provide on-going support for our soldiers and their families.

Ultimately, our aim is to make buying and selling property as smooth and hassle free as possible for our customers by providing a conveyancing service that is fast, professional and most importantly competitive. And of course, along with a first class service and a proactive approach.

Company: Greenfield Estate Agents Web: www.greenfield-property.co.uk

Business Elite Pharmaceutical MD of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite Pharmaceutical MD of the Year 2016

As a company, we are more committed to produce quality products and the focus will always remain the same. We are well known for our best and dedicated customer services with all our customers. We are always focused on making sure that needy patients get their medicines in time by putting special emphasis on the planning and supply chain.

In regards to the people we work with we serve all the mainlines, multiple retailers and wholesalers, supermarkets and we also supply NHS contracts.

The generic market at present in the UK is very competitive and challenging. Investing in new products especially niche products is the key for future growth. My focus has always been to reinvest into new product development and I am glad we have a good pipeline of new products which can catalyse the future growth.

Before joining RelonChem, I completed my master degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and have gone on to acquire more than 17 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry. I have worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing, formulation development, regulatory affairs, commercial and sales before I became Managing Director of this company.

I am both surprised and truly honoured to have won this award. I would like to thank all of my colleagues who made this possible. Winning this award gives me a sense of recognition and further encourages me to achieve more and more.

Looking ahead to the future we will be looking to launch number of new products and also identify more products for development so that the community can benefit from quality and affordable medicines. We will also be looking to enter in to the new dosage forms either by acquiring new licenses or by developing new products.

Arguably the biggest challenge for both myself and the company will be sustain the current growth and grow further from there making sure all the targeted new products are launched in time. Increased competition, new players, volatility in pricing and the increased compliance costs will continue to be the challenges in the pharmaceutical industry.

Company: RELONCHEM LIMITED
Name: SATHISH KUMAR K. J
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.relonchem.com
Address: Cheshire House, Gorsey Lane, Widnes, WA8 0RP
Telephone: 01515561865

Palamon Agrees sale of Eneas for a 3.3x Return
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Palamon Agrees sale of Eneas for a 3.3x Return

Palamon Capital Partners (“Palamon” or the “Firm”), a pan-European growth investor, has agreed the sale of Eneas Group (“Eneas” or the “Company”) to Norvestor Equity (“Norvestor”) for an undisclosed amount. The sale will bring total proceeds to NOK 750 million (approximately €80 million), representing a 3.3x return on invested capital. The transaction is expected to close in August 2016, subject to regulatory approvals. Full terms of the sale were not disclosed, however, following the transaction the Company will continue to be led by CEO and Founder, Thomas Hakavik.

Eneas is the leading independent supplier of corporate energy services to small and medium sized enterprises (“SMEs”) in the Nordic region and serves more than 25,000 customers with energy brokerage, energy audit and smart metering services.

Palamon acquired a substantial majority stake in Eneas having recognised the growth potential of its highly-scalable energy brokerage business, which intermediates between SMEs and the deeply fragmented Nordic supplier base of almost 300 energy providers. Under Palamon’s ownership, Eneas has grown into the largest independent energy broker for SMEs and the clear market leader in Norway and Sweden, representing 1.7 TWh of annual energy consumption. The Company has been able to successfully leverage its scale and sophistication in navigating the Nordic electricity market to offer competitive, convenience-focused products tailored to the needs of its SME customer base.

Jean Bonnavion, Partner at Palamon Capital Partners commented, “I am delighted with the level of success at Eneas, particularly over the past three years during which time we have grown EBITDA at 40% CAGR. Our investment in Eneas originated from our pan-European thematic strategy, which identifies high-growth businesses supported by resilient sectoral shifts. In line with our investment thesis, Thomas and his team have been able to scale the brokerage business to a position of real strength in a highly-fragmented and competitive supplier market, producing a 3.3x return for our investors.”

Thomas Hakavik, Founder and CEO of Eneas said, “Palamon has been a very strong partner for Eneas over the last three years. The Firm’s strategic guidance has proved critical in helping us to focus the company on the core business activities and drive growth. I am proud that Eneas is now the leading independent player in the Nordic energy market, in a stronger financial position than ever and with significantly improved capabilities. We are excited for the next stage of the company’s growth.”

Palamon’s previous investments in the Nordic region include: Espresso House, which it realised in 2012 for a 3.4x return and Nordax, which it sold in 2010 for a 3.8x return.

The Firm’s investment strategy targets businesses that can capitalise on long term growth trends arising from socio economic and structural changes within sub-sectors of industry. In April, Palamon signed an agreement to sell Towry, the leading independent UK wealth manager for £600 million and a 13x investment return. Palamon’s recent investments include the acquisition of control positions in three Founder-owned businesses: Currencies Direct, one of the largest specialist international payments providers in the UK; Il Bisonte, an Italian leather accessories brand with an established sales presence in Japan; and The Rug Company, the leading global retailer of designer luxury rugs.

For more information on Palamon refer to www.palamon.com

The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016

Our services typically include Outside Broadcast, Major Projects, Host Broadcasting, Fly-Pack, Post Production, Uplink & Satellite Communications and Video Display. We specialise in technological broadcast and content management solutions coupled with experienced crews and project management.

NEP UK & Ireland Broadcast Services provide equipment and crews for the coverage of live or recorded events. The genres typically fall across sports, music, reality and entertainment and we supply the personnel to engineer and operate our cameras, lenses, displays, video, replay, storage and sound equipment.

NEP UK & Ireland Creative Technologies provide solutions to create edit and distribute some of the world’s best known current affairs programmes, commercials, drama and film. Our award winning talent is unmatched and their work is enjoyed by millions.

Next time you are watching a new feature film, your favourite comedian or band or enjoying your team succeeding in a sports final it may well be possible because of what NEP UK & Ireland do.

I (Steve Jenkins) started in outside broadcasting in 1993 after completing my higher education in arts and media. Initially I started as a General Assistant and then after some training I became a Vision Engineer. I joined Visions Limited in 1997 and was fortunate enough to progress through the company from being a Technical Unit Manager to Commercial Director in 2003.

‘Visions’ was acquired by NEP in 2005 and I became Managing Director of Roll to Record Limited, another NEP acquisition in 2006.

Remaining with the NEP group and having successfully grown the Roll to Record business in January 2009, I took on the role of Managing Director of NEP Visions. Today I am President for the NEP UK & Ireland Group of companies, including the latest acquisitions, ScreenScene, Digital Space, Ardmore, OBS TV and Observe.

In addition I am also a member of the NEP leadership team and have aligned with my colleagues in 16 different countries around the world.

I am hugely passionate about the industry and the people working in it and we continue to drive forward an ethos of embracing new technology, developing talent and using them to enhance our clients’ coverage.

I lead an extremely talented and motivated team who thrive on the challenge and excitement of outside broadcasting and creative media management.

In regards to our clients we serve a diverse range of people who operate in differing markets with differing needs and the content reaches a spectrum of audiences across sports, light entertainment and music events. Typically our clients are leading broadcasters, production companies, governments, advertising agencies and film producers.

We have a great track record and have long and trusting partnerships with our clients, every day brings new challenges and we constantly push ourselves to succeed. Being a creative technology business we have to be innovative, that’s exciting and brings change but we also need to make sure everything we deliver is of the highest of standards and that we deliver everything on time. I care passionately about my staff, NEP and the company so I take every decision seriously.

To have been awarded ‘The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016’ is a great honour and I feel that any win for the company is a team effort and shared with all the staff, we are a close community and take great pride in our work.

Looking ahead to the future if we can continue to thrive as a company and identify any opportunities which we can take advantage of then we will be more than content.

Company: NEP UK
Name: Steve Jenkins
Email: [email protected]
Address: Venture House, Arlington Square Bracknell, RG12 1WA
Telephone: +44 (0)1344 356 700