Category: Finance

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:
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:
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:
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:
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.”

CNH Industrial Acquires Kongskilde Agriculture Brands
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

CNH Industrial Acquires Kongskilde Agriculture Brands

CNH Industrial N.V. announced today its agreement to acquire the agricultural Grass and Soil implement business of Kongskilde Industries, part of the Danish Group Dansk Landbrugs Grovvareselskab.

This business develops, manufactures and sells solutions for agricultural applications in the Tillage, Seeding and Hay & Forage segments under various brands, including Kongskilde, Överum and JF.
The acquisition comprises a transfer of assets related to the Tillage, Seeding and Hay & Forage activities of Kongskilde Industries. The manufacturing footprint of this business includes two plants in Europe, located in Poland and Sweden. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

As a result of the agreement with DLG A.m.b.A., CNH Industrial’s global agricultural machinery brand New Holland Agriculture will undergo a significant product portfolio extension that will strengthen its Tillage, Seeding and Hay & Forage product offering. New Holland has a long-established leadership in the hay tools segment going back to 1940 with the introduction of the first self-tying baler to American farmers, a major breakthrough in hay harvesting. Today, New Holland is a leading global brand and an industry-leader in North America in hay tools with a complete product offering of hay equipment used in a variety of agricultural, dairy, and livestock industries.

“We are proud to welcome the well established products and brands of Kongskilde, Överum and JF into the CNH Industrial Group. It is our intention to build upon these proud heritages and significantly increase their market access as part of our worldwide distribution network,” commented Richard Tobin, CEO of CNH Industrial.

Through this agreement New Holland will be able to provide its worldwide customers with further innovative and comprehensive equipment solutions for their farming needs in tillage, seeding and Hay & Forage

CNH Industrial N.V is a global leader in the capital goods sector with established industrial experience, a wide range of products and a worldwide presence. Each of the individual brands belonging to the Company is a major international force in its specific industrial sector: Case IH, New Holland Agriculture and Steyr for tractors and agricultural machinery; Case and New Holland Construction for earth moving equipment; Iveco for commercial vehicles; Iveco Bus and Heuliez Bus for buses and coaches; Iveco Astra for quarry and construction vehicles; Magirus for firefighting vehicles; Iveco Defence Vehicles for defence and civil protection; and FPT Industrial for engines and transmissions. More information can be found on the corporate website:

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.

DanSmoke to Offer Unique Benefits for Ryanair Passengers
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

DanSmoke to Offer Unique Benefits for Ryanair Passengers

DanSmoke, the number one electronic cigarette brand in Europe, is kicking off the New Year in a high-flying manner. The e-cigarette forerunner is joining forces with another European favourite, the airline giant Ryanair in an international ad campaign. The DanSmoke “luggage tag”, along with a discount voucher will appear on millions of boarding passes starting this month.

With online shops in 18 European countries and with more planned for this year, DanSmoke™ is the leading name in the industry of electronic cigarette products. Now this fast-growing brand seems to have found its perfect match in Ryanair, Europe’s favourite airline carrier. The ongoing collaboration combines the global reach and scale of Ryanair, with the innovative products of DanSmoke in an effort to raise awareness about the benefits of e-cigarettes over combustible tobacco.

“We’re very pleased to be working together with Ryanair to promote our products. With 189 destinations in 30 countries, Ryanair covers all our current and future markets. So together we make a really great team,” said Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen, DanSmoke’s CEO.

Moreover, e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, but no tar or carbon monoxide, have fast become a popular alternative for smokers looking for an efficient cessation aid that they can use everywhere – be it on the ground or up in the sky. DanSmoke has currently over 50 000 customers around Europe – a figure which is likely to rise, as new countries are added to the list of markets covered.

The DanSmoke “luggage tag” will be featured extensively on boarding passes across the Ryanair network of destinations. During the campaign, nicotine-craving globetrotters can use their Ryanair boarding pass as a key to discount in DanSmoke webshops.

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. Offers Emergency Funding
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance 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. 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. 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, interact with Amazon Alexa here.

TheStreet, Inc. ( 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 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 and 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

ClearSlide and LevelEleven Announce Partnership
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

ClearSlide and LevelEleven Announce Partnership

ClearSlide, the Sales Engagement Platform leader, and LevelEleven, the leading Sales Activity Management System, today announced a partnership and integrations that will deliver significant sales productivity improvements for any company.

According to global sales advisory firm CSO Insights, sales leaders report that improving sales productivity tops their list of priorities. But on average, sales managers have less than 20 percent of their time available to directly help reps sell. Also, more than 70 percent of companies are taking at least six months to ramp new reps and fewer than 60 percent of sales reps achieve their sales quota plans. These challenges are resulting in sales leaders wanting better, real-time visibility into how their sales staff are engaging prospects and customers to achieve sales priorities and business results.

“Nearly every sales leader I meet would like to increase the productivity of their sales teams – but they struggle to identify which activities and behaviors will make a difference,” said Jim Benton, ClearSlide Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder. “We are excited to work with LevelEleven because they strive to always improve how companies engage their customers. Partnerships like this offer modern tools with better guided sales activities to create amazing sales experiences in this exciting digital era of selling.”

“Sales leaders embrace LevelEleven’s Sales Activity Management System to keep salespeople engaged in the right behaviors, so that sales teams will deliver more revenue,” said Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven. “Bringing ClearSlide activities and customer engagement metrics into our product adds visibility to critical new sales KPIs, increasing confidence that deals will close and sales teams are clearly focused. We’re honored to join ClearSlide’s strong partner program.”

LevelEleven has integrated ClearSlide’s open APIs into its Sales Activity Management System. This integration provides organizations a guided selling process with actions sales reps should take at each sales stage. This also provides visibility into performance against top ClearSlide KPIs such as email open rates, number of online and in-person meetings, and total engaged selling time. Sales leaders leverage the LevelEleven integration with ClearSlide KPIs to set benchmark performance levels to help scale stronger results across their teams.

ClearSlide’s partner program offers integration access to valuable ClearSlide activity and engagement data to power new digital selling processes and stronger sales enablement applications. Using open APIs, developers can dynamically upload content, programmatically launch email online meetings, and ingest robust customer engagement data into their own applications. Partners or customers interested to learn more about ClearSlide’s partner program and API development kit can easily connect with the company by emailing [email protected]

A World of Wellness
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

A World of Wellness

Based in Florida, Code of Life’s Boutique Wellness Studio provide pilates, barre, dance and cardio classes for a highly diverse range of clients. We spoke to Hosanna De Linares, President of the studio, to find out how they provide a truly unforgettable experience.

To kick things off, could you tell our readers about what people can expect to experience when visiting your studio, and the type of exercises involved? At Code of Life’s Boutique Wellness Studio, you are trained to be mindful and aware of your body movement as you are shown how to excel to your personal best through our ever-changing exercises. Code of Life’s reformer,
barre and CoreALign classes are based on the six pilates principles:
concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision and flow. 

The reformer is a piece of resistance exercise equipment designed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It consists of a platform that moves back and forth along a carriage. Resistance is provided by the exerciser’s body weight and by springs attached to the carriage and platform.
The reformer provides finely tuned exercise resistance that allows one to work very precisely to develop good alignment, core strength and flexibility.

These things in turn, lead to daily life improvements such as better posture, graceful, efficient movement, and for many, relief from pain associated with physical imbalances such as back pain.
Designed by Jonathan Hoffman, a physical therapist and fitness enthusiast, CoreAlign was created with the belief that the body functions and heals best when movements are anatomically sound and balanced.

As a training tool, CoreAlign exercises are designed to create harmony between controlled stability and dynamic mobility, resulting in a strong, healthy and vibrant body. The CoreAlign method stimulates our core stability muscles to fire in perfect timing while performing functional exercises,
deep stretches and core-controlled aerobic training. This makes it a perfect addition to a Pilates studio, personal training or physical therapy practice.

The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training, combined with high reps of a small rangeof-motion movements. Barre combines pilates, yoga and ballet moves to give you beautiful, sculpted and lean muscles. In order to provide a
variety for our customers, we continue to design and develop new and challenging exercises that will make them stronger, and will keep them wanting to come back and experience more of our fun and dynamic classes.

Through this process, you will be guided to grow stronger physically and mentally, balancing the body and mind so that when you walk out the door you move gracefully towards a well-balanced life, making your practice your lifestyle. Additionally, Code of Life also offers health coaching
to help you make positive choices that enhance your personal physical, mental and spiritual health. Also at Code of Life’s Boutique shop, you will find the best curated style activewear brands from around the world. 

Could you tell us a bit more about how long you have been running and the beautiful location that you are based in? Code of Life was born three years ago in Key Biscayne in Florida, which is an island oasis with world renowned parks at both ends. The island has become famous for both golf and tennis tournaments, and its unique surrounding means that it attracts visitors from across the globe. 

What would say are the major attractions behind your boutique studio? We focus on the fundamentals of pilates, exercises that involve practicing on the mat, reformer, barre and core align. In order to provide a variety for our customers, we continue to design and develop new and challenging exercises and we also offer wellness programs and nutritional coaching.

Tell us about a typical client a Code of Conduct?

There is no typical client at Code of Conduct and we provide form all walks of life. In the beginning, the first Code of Life clients were friends of mine, and from then one, the word spread about our services and we have continued to grow from strength to strength. 

To what extent do you think that hotel and spa industry is built around
creating unforgettable experiences and providing exquisite escapes from
everyday life?

I think this is basically what we are all about and is what we try to achieve with each and every customer that comes to our business. 

Can you outline some of the qualities of your establishment, such as extravagance, elegance, sophistication and peerless customer service that ensures visitors return again and again?

Code of Life’s space, classes and environment are designed to make you feel at home. They are like your sanctuary, a sacred space where you feel safe, where you feel free, where you know that as soon as you walk in the door all your worries and anxieties can be left behind. It is where people
can allow themselves to trust and be guided into a truly unforgettable experience.

What makes put the success of your company down to?

First and foremost, I passionately believe in what I do and what I have to offer. What makes my job so much easier is that I really love what I do, and my clients are people I care about and who I am motivated to do my very best for. 

What contribution do your staff make to the success of your firm?

Our staff are the backbone behind our success, where each instructor trains daily and is continuing to grow their own practices. We are all united by the fact that we take a personal touch to what we do, love what we do and believe in what Code of Life stands for.

Looking ahead, what challenges lie ahead in 2016 for your firm?

In this business field, success is staying current with what is constantly developing and differentiating yourself from others. We believe that our business has continued to develop and grow in line with our clients ever-evolving needs.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Is there anything else
you would like to add?

I would like to close by saying that I feel blessed to be able to do what I
love and be able to share my passion with others.

Company: Code of Life
Name: Hosanna De Linares
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 328 Crandon Blvd.
Suite 210. Key Biscayne, FL 33149
Telephone: +1 305 490 4201

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])

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:


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 

Martindale Pharma Announces Acquisition of Viridian Pharma
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Martindale Pharma Announces Acquisition of Viridian Pharma

This acquisition is part of Martindale Pharma’s strategy to expand its product portfolio and actively support further growth of its hospital-initiated medicines product range.

Viridian Pharma has developed five products all of which have regulatory approval in the UK and represent first-to-market specialty hospital-prescribed medicines. The product portfolio consists of caffeine citrate injection and caffeine citrate oral solution for apnoea of prematurity in pre-term babies, sodium chloride oral solution for correction of hypernatremia in infants, sodium citrate oral solution for the prevention of respiratory complications in women undergoing caesarean sections and peppermint water for symptomatic relief of minor upper digestive complaints.

Martindale Pharma has been working with Viridian Pharma to manufacture and market the two key caffeine citrate products, and has built a strong market share of the neonatology or Special Care Baby Units in the UK over the past 10 years, exclusively using the Martindale/Viridian caffeine citrate range. Viridian Pharma will be immediately combined with Martindale Pharma’s existing growing business, which has an established UK and international footprint.

Michael Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Martindale Pharma, commented: “Martindale Pharma’s strategy is to build leading positions in defined business segments where there is a high unmet medical need and a demand for improved product presentations. This acquisition enables us to expand and strengthen our product range of essential medicines. Viridian has created a portfolio of valuable products which are a very good fit for our hospital-initiated medicines portfolio and can be marketed through our UK organisation as well as our international partner network.”

Mike Lanning, a founder director of Viridian Pharma, added: “Through the successful collaboration on our caffeine citrate range, Martindale Pharma has demonstrated the capability to ensure these important medicines are preferentially used in vulnerable patients. We are delighted that such a strong business partner has acquired the company and will support and develop the product range into the future.”

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:

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.

Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Cheshire House, Gorsey Lane, Widnes, WA8 0RP
Telephone: 01515561865

REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany Acquires Logistics Property in Bielefeld
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany Acquires Logistics Property in Bielefeld

The property, which extends over 4,419 square metres of warehouse and office space, is used by Deutsche Post DHL Group to operate a mechanised delivery site (German: MechZB) for parcels. Completed in 2013, the property sold for an amount in the double-digit millions.

With this latest addition included, the portfolio of the REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany has grown to a total volume of around 130 million euros within a six-month period. The property just bought brings the number of fund assets up to eight. It is planned to spend another 150 million euros on acquisitions before the end of 2016.

“The prestigious occupier, Deutsche Post DHL Group, the long remaining lease term, and the great location make this logistics property a top investments in line with our fund strategy,” said Bodo Hollung, Managing Director of REALOGIS Real Estate GmbH.

The logistics property, which was completed in 2013, is located at Südring 98 in Bielefeld’s southern district of Brackwede on a plot of 15,000 square metres. The site comes with convenient access both to the town centre of Bielefeld and to the nearest motorway interchange (A2/A23). The mechanised delivery site in Bielefeld is the second of its kind in the portfolio of the REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany, while the pre-acquisition audit for a third one is already in progress.

Launched in 2015 as real estate special AIF, the REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany invests in new logistics properties marked by a high alternative use potential and located in well-established locations, but will also invest in existing properties distinguished by great locations and a high degree of attraction to occupiers.

The portfolio strategy aims for the greatest possible diversification in regard to size, age and location of the real estate as well as in regard to remaining lease terms. The investment volume of the fund is c. 300 million euros.

For further information, please visit:

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

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

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016

Despite being around for over two decades, 2015/16 was actually a record year for SPA and a culmination of a great deal of hard work by the team here. While we are successful, and it hasn’t happened overnight, we never rest on our laurels, because in our industry you are only as good as your last campaign or live event.

As for our clients, I work across many industry sectors, spanning American Golf and Black Death Vodka and to the lime industry and commercial engineering. All of these endeavours require a fresh approach to their marketing, PR and events, and this is something I really enjoy conceiving and delivering. When expanding our client base, we are often approached direct, but I also recommend networking at the highest level, as this is something that has certainly paid off for me.

In terms of my experience, I started my career as the brand manager for Vladivar Vodka, ‘the Wodka from Varrington’, working for Greenalls’ Brewery. After that wonderful opportunity, spending 10 years in-house, doing amazing marketing and powerful PR stunts, I stepped over to ‘the other side’ and joined the agency world. It was in this environment I was able to use my flair, creativity and sense of humour, aligned with marketing nous and experience.

Generally speaking, I enjoy going into companies where growth is an issue. I tend to come at problems from a new, but informed perspective.

I find this can awake slumbering giants who are embedded in old ways, and the younger members of the in-house management teams tend be fully supportive of these fresh ideas. Then, when they start to work, everyone feels the momentum and we are all winners.

Looking further down the road, there are many issues facing companies in our industry. Succession planning is one for all ambitious companies.

However, I intend to continue developing my team and delegating greater levels of responsibility. If I can get my golf handicap down to around 15, my succession planning would be deemed to be working.

As for this award, I am delighted to have won this very prestigious ‘gong’ and hope perhaps it is reflection of a certain doggedness to ride through both recessionary times as well as the years of plenty.

Ultimately, if I can continue growing the bottom line, doing great, exciting work for some fantastic clients I will be very happy. It’s not about me or my business, but moreso about the success and growth of my clients’ businesses. If we get that right, everyone succeeds!

Company: The SPA Group Ltd
Name: Simon Plumb
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 2, Bridgewater Court, Barsbank Lane,
Lymnm, Cheshire WA13 0ER
Telephone: W: 01925 755590 M: 07799 403121

Finest in Finance
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Finest in Finance

We are partners with a number of international firms including Metastock, SAS, Microsoft, Citrix, Face Group, and Hootsuite. Forrester Research highlighted our efforts in the field of Natural Language Processing, Big Data, and Text Analytics for Arabic language in a report published on November 2015 entitled “The Gulf Cooperative Council’s Big Data Opportunity: How The GCC Can Use Big Data to Be More Competitive”.

In regards to the financial areas, our company launched a portal for financial market analysis and training. The project merged applications of information technology and financial market analysis in a unique portal.

The portal provides our customers with e-training courses and lectures to learn how to use technical analysis software like Metastock and Xenith in order to help them take the right decisions during their trading.

The portal also offers the possibility to attend our training programs and lectures via the internet using live webinars and virtual classroom technologies. These technologies enable the trainees to attend lectures remotely from any place, using any computer or smart phone or a tablet PC. This is achieved by using Citrix e-collaboration technologies for live broadcasting and online collaboration. Recorded lectures and webinars are also available through an integrated Learning Management System.

In addition to this portal, we offer to our clients other consultancy services which merge information technology, financial market analysis software, finance, economics and business. In this respect we offer consultancy in using information technology and financial market analysis software for financial and investment institutions and private traders. We also develop information technology solutions and software for corporations working in financial markets. Our hands-on training, support, and customisation for Metastock software is used in financial market analysis. Moreover, we support media and business institutions with financial reports and economic indicators utilising financial market analysis software.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2016 and beyond, we are working on utilising big data analytics and social media analytics to provide our customers in the financial sector with insights and indicators that help them in sensing and measuring the market trends and taking the proper decisions. In this respect, we have developed a Sentiment Analysis API for Standard Arabic language and Kuwaiti dialect. We have also developed a social media analytics system optimised for Standard Arabic language and Kuwaiti Dialect. These systems can be utilised to analyse the investors’ trends, sentiment, and tone in relation to financial markets, stocks, news and other events affecting the local and regional financial market landscape.

We are also focusing on Social Trading by merging our experience in information technology, social media analytics, and financial markets to provide our clients with a robust interactive social trading environment which can be applied to local, regional, and international financial markets.

Company: Information Age for I.T. Consultations
Name: Dr. Salah Alnajem
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Ali Tower, Floor 7, Office 9, Abdullah Al Mubarak Street, Al
Qiblah, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Telephone: 965 90097970

Finest in Finance
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Finest in Finance

With offices in Aberdeen and Caithness along with our main office in Ellon, Aberdeenshire we have a committed team who can provide financial advisory solutions at your request.

In terms of our approach to our clients, we are happy to meet them where they find the most convenient, and our aim is to find our clients the most competitive financial products to suit their individual needs.

In regards to our investment advisory service we typically deal with investment bonds, investment trusts, capital protected investments and children’s saving plans. However, we can also deal with bank and building society accounts, personal taxation planning, inheritance tax planning and tax efficient investments etc.

Our mortgage advice generally covers a wide area with first time buyers, home movers, remortgages and buy to let mortgages being most common.

In regards to pension services, we offer advice on personal pensions, stakeholder pensions and self-invested personal pensions. At the moment we are dealing with a lot of “At retirement” advice. The pension freedoms last year have seen a huge spike in business in this area and our Senior Financial Planner Ryan Yule, is being kept very busy with pension enquiries. Last year we arranged over 200 mortgages and we are on track to arrange over 300 mortgages in 2016.

If we take a closer look at the industry, one of the challenges we are currently facing is regulatory costs. However, looking ahead to the remainder of 2016 and beyond sees Aberdeen being severely impacted by the low oil price the local economy in the north-east which is challenging to say the least. In addition, at some point I can see purchase mortgages decreasing, but the increase in people looking for pension advice is negating this for us.

In December 2015 we moved into a larger office and throughout 2016 it is our aim to continue our growth. We have recently taken on another administrator and we hope to have another financial planner on board in the near future.

Company: Phil Anderson Financial Services Ltd.
Name: Phil Anderson
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 8 Bridge Street, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 9AA
Telephone: 01358 268166

Top 100 Financial Services USA
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Top 100 Financial Services USA

First of all, can you give us a brief background to the company?

The company was founded based on inspiration, and at its dawn I realised there was something missing out there with credit card transactions online and a way to secure this. I came up with the idea of a “Next Gen Payment Gateway” which encompasses cyber security. It secures the transaction, encrypts the card, and ensures that the identity is completely stored so nobody can hack into it. In addition, it uses a third party card number to prevent merchants and customers from being a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Although Allied Wallet was founded in May 2006, it took six years to build a platform. We are the only company in the market today that has no CV investors because it is all self-built. If you think of any company including PayPal, they all started with money from an investor because such firms did not belief in themselves. I believed in myself and the company while risking my own money in the project.

What is the most exciting thing about your position in the company?

As the sole owner and CEO of Allied Wallet, the most exciting thing is being hands-on and my involvement with the everyday activities of the business. I like to understand what goes on in my company. I enjoy communicating with my people to improve things. If I’m not on top of it all, how can I therefore improve it?

Could you tell us a bit about the 24-hour support that is available to your customers and why you think this is important?

Many other companies out there in the market today don’t provide sufficient, live customer support, even PayPal. Allied Wallet still firmly believes in the old school approach, when you have a problem you can speak to somebody about it instead of being put through to an automated machine. An automated machine is not the way to conduct business. We are human beings. Allied Wallet has customer support in place with people able to speak different languages. The company is able to speak in English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Japanese and this is very important in regards to accommodating consumers, to ensure they are satisfied with the service they receive, and also to listen to the story and frustrations of the merchants. In short, we have to look after them.

Could you tell us about the size and nature of your client base?

Allied Wallet is massively well-known in the US, Europe, and Asia and we deal with clients that do €100 a month to €15m a month in business. We take care of businesses of all kinds, so whether you are a small merchant or a large merchant, we will treat you the same. Ultimately, our firm likes to do business with everybody. We had merchants start nine years ago and they have stayed with us and have been loyal, despite every other processor out there trying to get them on board. When you start-up an e-commerce business a lot of people don’t believe in your ideas and that includes banks. With no investors and no money in the bank it can be very difficult as a start-up particularly if you have just come out of university and college, the banks will only cater for big businesses. This leaves many entrepreneurs with no hope and that is the problem.

In the past ten years, I have managed to get approximately 3600 entrepreneurs on board with me, and right now they are making a massive volume by generating more than 600,000 jobs in the UK, USA and Asia. Companies like Allied Wallet believed in them and as a result they are helping the economy and indeed all of these families, instead of sitting at home unemployed and taking the government’s money. Allied Wallet helps guide our clients through both the good and bad times, and they stick around because we treat them every much like a friend, not a client.

Could you tell me about your offshore credit card processing solutions and what this entails?

If you are a UK-based company and have consumers scattered around the world, the question is how your bank is going to understand. If you have a European entity in the UK and more than 50% of your customers are from outside Europe, your bank is going to look at you as a potential risk for them and they could close down your account. Banks don’t understand that e-commerce is international and globally accessible due to the world wide web. From a compliance point of view, they don’t understand why consumers are going to buy your product, so we at Allied Wallet consider ourselves as the messiah of global processing simply because we make things happen.

Why should potential customers out there choose Allied Wallet?

First, we are partnered with every popular shopping cart solution. We can make it happen because we already have them integrated. We’ve spent years and years integrating shopping carts. We have about 40 of the best shopping carts in the world with approximately 200 million consumers on the back of them. This integration takes less than a few hours to give consumers access to shopping carts in every region of the world. We take Direct Debit, ACH (the electronic cheque), VISA card, American Express, and many other payment methods which banks do not provide – but as a global processor, we have all these in place.

What are the challenges and opportunities for you and the company in 2016 and beyond?

The company is growing and is doing great, but the only thing I would say is we need to add more services. More services entail finding a more flexible way to do electronic payments, indeed we have a new mobile device coming out which is the pin, chip, and swipe – all of which are combined in one device.

We also have a card registration service. Which means if you have a card registered with Allied Wallet, you will never have to apply for a card again or pull out your wallet again because it is fully electronic. We guarantee the transaction and the payment for all of our merchants, so you will never ever see fraud transactions or a chargeback based on the usage because we have the full information stored in our facilities for every single consumer registered with Allied Wallet. We are preventing the merchant from becoming a victim of fraud and accommodating the consumer with an easy and secure way to pay. Thank you for these inspiring and choice words. Is there anything else you would like to add? I would say one thing to entrepreneurs out there and to everybody reading this… Hope is the best thing you can have, and that I am one of you. I believed in myself and took a chance and made it to the top. Don’t be afraid. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Just believe in yourself and you will get everything you want in life. Don’t let anyone slow you down. If you don’t start today, every day you waste is one you will never get back in life.

Company: Allied Wallet, Ltd.
Web Address:

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

Birtenshaw was established in 1956 by a group of parents as a special school for young children with cerebral palsy. Today our firm provides a wide range of services for children and young adults, with severe learning disability, including Autism Spectrum Conditions and/or significant physical disability, including complex health needs.

The firm runs also a range of therapeutic health and wellbeing services.

Although Birtenshaw is positioned within the voluntary and community sector, or what many people refer to as the ‘not for profit’ sector, I take the view that we should operate as a ‘social enterprise’ on sound business principles with the aim of making a profit. However, in our case the profit is not for shareholders but ‘profit for purpose’ so that we can re-invest and continue to expand the range and diversity of our services.

We have been very successful at that over the last few years. Between 2012/2013 and 2015/2015 Birtenshaw’s turnover grew by over 326% whilst in 2014/2015 the bottom line improved by over 40% and in 2015/2016 by a further 126%.

This has enabled us to increase the number of children and young people supported by our services in that time by over 280%.

Birtenshaw’s vision is “brightening lives, building futures” for disabled young people, whether that be people who are physically disabled or learning disabled. Our vision is based on the philosophy of ‘ordinary life principles’. What this means is simply that young people with Special Education Needs and Disability are supported to take part in meaningful and enjoyable activities and have the same learning and social opportunities as other children.

My own career background is mostly in the public sector; having worked for three North West based Local Authorities. Overall I have almost 30 years’ experience working in social work/care.

From a young age I knew that I wanted to be a social worker and in particular to work with disabled children. Some of the younger members of my family are disabled and I saw the struggle they and their parents had to access quality services. I have always felt strongly that disabled young people should be able to access a range of quality services that helps to improve the quality of their life.

I joined Birtenshaw in 2006 after making the decision to move from the public sector to the so called ‘not for profit’ sector. At the time I noticed a growing trend for local authorities and councils to have their funding restricted, and I wanted to move into a sector where I could have more influence over the allocation of resources and funding.

Since my arrival at Birtenshaw I have worked tirelessly to grow the firm and expand our service offering so that we can meet the ever increasing needs and numbers of young people and children across the North West and beyond with special needs.

Recent developments include the opening of a state of the art special school in 2012 with the aim to provide quality education services which are cost effective and cater to children and young people at every level of the disability spectrum, although in particular those with the greatest need.

Birtenshaw School provides the ideal physical environment for the specialist learning needs of its pupils, with purpose built facilities. Consequently, the school is able to provide a spacious, calm and safe environment in which young people can thrive. Our facilities fully support the creative learning curriculum and “Total Communication” approach to this specialised area of education. Each of the classrooms is equipped with all of the state-of-the-art education technology such as touch screens and iPads which you would expect to find in any modern school.

In addition, the school has a range of specialist facilities which underpin its special education needs functions by working with sensory experiences (sight, sound, touch, smell and so on) to develop senses, co-ordination and communication for each pupil, promoting interaction, concentration, calmness and confidence. These facilities include a sensory integration room; a multisensory dark room; on-site hydrotherapy pool with multisensory sound and light system as well as a soft play area. The school’s multisensory input is supported by its fulltime occupational therapist who completes a detailed sensory profile for individual pupils, producing a ‘sensory diet’ for the school’s professionally trained staff to follow. Outside of the classroom, the school has also provided safe enclosed outdoor play spaces and a horticultural garden, and the school is currently developing a sensory garden, to allow pupils the chance to learn in their own way outside of the classroom.

I am delighted that the success of Birtenshaw School is recognised at national level as it has been nominated as a finalist for the second year in a row in the Times Education Supplement Awards (TESAwards). In addition, we have only just learned that the school has also been nominated for a national Diversity Award by a parent of one of the children.

In September 2014 we opened a new special education further education college. The intention was to provide the same quality of learning for students up to the age of 25 years old. The college has now achieved Independent Specialist status with the DfE and the Education Funding Agency and is already oversubscribed.

Birtenshaw School has been graded independently as an Outstanding School and we look forward to a formal Ofsted inspection in the near future.

In addition to our education services, we operate a number of care services for young adults and several children’s homes (which make up the majority of our service offering) have been rated by Ofsted inspectors as Outstanding.

Given the quality of our services it is no surprise that many Birtenshaw employees are nominated for national awards. In the last few months, a manager and a support worker form care services have got through to the national finals of the GB Care Awards, two other front line leaders are finalists in the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards and my deputy CEO is a finalist in the E3 Business Awards as an ‘Outstanding Woman in Business’. It is the quality of the people in my team that makes Birtenshaw such a success.

Although there is nothing unique in offering education or care services to disabled children and young adults, Birtenshaw is differentiated from its competitors because of the high quality of care, cost effective approach and versatile service offering.

Over recent years we have noticed that local councils and authorities are purchasing our services more often, because as I predicted efficiency targets are a prevailing trend in the Special Education Needs and Disability sector, and many public sector providers have seen their funding significantly reduced over the past few years and their capacity to provide services themselves has decreased accordingly, leading councils to outsource to firms such as ours.

Another key trend which is putting a strain on the public purse is the increased number of people living for longer with significant physical impairment and the increasing number of people being diagnosed with autistic spectrum conditions.

Advancement in medical services and knowledge has helped medical professionals to diagnose Autism more easily. Whilst I believe that medical advancement has a part to play in this, I also believe that there are other, as yet unproven, reasons for the significant increase in the number of people presenting on the autistic spectrum.

I have a number of growth strategies in place to assist Birtenshaw to continue our phenomenal growth to build on our current level of success and expand into new sectors, allowing us to help more people with Special Education Needs and Disability.

When we built the new school three years ago we drastically underestimated the demand for our services, although we have just received confirmation for the DfE to enable us to increase the number of registered placements at the school, we are also looking into a number of expansion plans, including redeveloping our previous site into new classrooms, and creating an early years’ service.

During the remainder of this calendar year we will be opening at least another four children’s homes, to compliment the recently opened children’s short break centre (formally called respite) which is designed to provide an enjoyable positive activity based experience for the child and a break for their parents/carers.

Although the new school and future new education services are exciting new ventures for Birtenshaw, approximately 60% of our business is care services and allied health support.

In the longer term we are keen to expand geographically. Our services are currently based exclusively in the Greater Manchester area, albeit with a national reach but we are planning to expand into Merseyside by 2017, with a view to eventually operating on a national basis

Ultimately we anticipate that the number, diversity and age range of the people we support will continue to grow over the coming years, and we are keen to ensure that we meet this need and can provide quality, cost effective education and care services to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable disabled young people in our society and ensure that they experience an improvement in the quality of their lives.

Company: Birtenshaw
Address: Darwen Road, Bolton, BL7 9AB
Phone: 01204 304 230

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

My career background has been quite diverse in nature; from being in the Australian Military before joining Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, to then joining Quickcut which was my first ‘step into the world of enabling and disruptive technologies’. I embraced the reasons and benefits behind the use of new technologies in the workplace. Be it from the introduction of the personal computer, to cell phones, to smartphones, to cloud computing and social networking. There is no doubt that the introduction of these technologies has shaken up the status quo and enforced a management re-think.

I understood that I needed to be part of this change and as such, I now have extensive experience in ‘building’ early-stage technology companies from the brand management, advertising and marketing sectors before expanding their ‘footprint’ internationally, which led me to joining Adgistics some six years ago. The company’s solutions platform, the Brand Centre®, has evolved in line with the changing demands of brand management and the challenges marketers face.

The Brand Centre is a suite of networked technologies that enable companies to optimise and support some or all major marketing operations activities and processes. Whilst it has been developed on solid, proven marketing asset management and business process management, it also matches specific functionality to individual enterprise needs, and recognizes that these needs evolve. By doing this, Adgistics ensures optimum uptake, operational efficiency, improved productivity, organisationwide transparency and contribution to building brand advocacy.

Even though I have been immersed and involved with these ‘types’ of technologies for over 25 years, if doesn’t stop me from being continually amazed with the volume and creativity of the ground-breaking technologies being developed and how these advances have and will continue to transform life, business and the global economy.

Given that the challenges faced by marketers today is ‘universal’ in nature and ever evolving, Adgistics solutions are used by brands of all types and sizes from small to medium sized businesses, to large corporate enterprises. Interestingly, in the last 24 months, the company has seen a lot of traction from brands in the Financial, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sectors where the volatility in both their respective market conditions and public perception have caused these sectors in particular to consider the best methods to make brand coherent, effective and consistently expressed on a global stage, whilst taking into account they operate in heavily regulated industries.

As CEO, I need to ensure we stay cognisant of the challenges facing marketers today as they conceive new ways to aggregate and curate content, whilst simultaneously managing campaigns and maintaining a strong brand value identity. However, I also need to ensure we understand that we also ‘operate’ in a rapidly changing digital landscape where marketers must re-think the roles their brands play in the lives of their customers, and how they bring those roles to life across platforms and touch points.

As such, one of my challenges as CEO is to ensure our client’s and the market understand that Adgistics is constantly striving to demonstrate its desire and credentials to those marketers so that we can help them deliver upon those challenges. We believe a company’s brand extends beyond marketing communications.

It is a management asset and business system that provides a common language across the multiple specialties in a business. It can be optimally managed through a Brand Centre to create growth, profit, sustainability and long-term value.
During the six years I have spent as CEO of Adgistics, we have had a lot of successes in terms of new client wins, platform development and expansion of our ‘global footprint’. However, I was insistent that our many successes didn’t compromise our core values of quality customer service, maintaining strong values and integrity and also the desire to continually quest for improvement. To that, Adgistics continues to grow and extend its reach both across business verticals and geographies.

It is certainly an honour to be awarded Business Elite CEO, and I would like to thank Wealth & Finance very much for the recognition. Being CEO of a company that has such a group of innovative, passionate and professional people who love what they do is something I am extremely proud of and makes the role even more enjoyable.

Looking towards the future, I am very confident that Adgistics will continue to grow in 2016 and beyond. It would be too easy to focus on ‘delivery and results’ and lose sight of what is more important. I need to ensure we have clarity on what we stand for, where, why and how we’ll get there. We operate in the ‘world of branding’ and how brands utilise technology to help them serve their customers better continues to evolve at a rapid pace and as such, we must constantly demonstrate that we can deliver with and for our clients. I want Adgistics to be the company our clients look to for inspiration.

Company: Adgistics Ltd.
Name: Joe Jarrett
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 2nd Floor Deben House, 1 Selsdon Way. London E14 9GL
United Kingdom
Telephone: 44(0)20 7378 6777

Business Elite CEO  of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in London, Asite helps people share information and build knowledge in a secure cloud environment. Asite’s cloud technology gives everyone involved in projects access to key information online in a secure environment. It allows for increased collaboration, fewer mistakes and reduced rework, giving huge time and cost savings. In an interview with the firm’s CEO – Tony Ryan, he reveals that he was honoured to be awarded the Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016, and sheds light on Asite’s cloud technology.

The CEO at Asite since 2006, Tony turned the business around to produce consecutive quarterly growth and led Asite to its current position as a leading corporate collaborative cloud solution provider. Prior to Asite, Tony held a number of senior roles with companies including Renaissance Worldwide, Group Bull and Cara Information Technology. He has over 27 years’ experience in the IT services arena, with extensive knowledge of corporate collaboration technologies. When he can find the time, he enjoys nothing more than playing (albeit badly) a game of golf or two.

First of all, can you elaborate on what the firm does?
Asite’s cloud technology gives everyone involved in construction projects access to key information online. It allows for increased collaboration, fewer mistakes, reduced rework, giving demonstrable time and cost savings.

Asite’s Adoddle platform allows teams to store and manage all project data in one central and secure repository, integrating with existing solutions for big data capabilities. It also enables customers to fully customize the structure of their content with highly controlled access and rich configurable workflows to allow for improved project controls.

The Adoddle platform is used by leading architecture, engineering and construction firms, as well as property owners world-wide to manage their largest and most demanding capital investment programs.

Can you go into detail about the areas your company specialises in?
Adoddle helps global organisations manage their projects and supply chains collaboratively, accessing the information they need, when and where they need it. It enables AECO companies to measure and track capital projects and asset operations.

Can you tell us how the business is going and the challenges you face at the helm of it?
I have steered the company through some very tough conditions in a market that suffered the hardest since the downturn in 2008. I could not have done it without the incredible team that I have had the honour of working for – the Ateam.

What experience do you have in the IT services arena and also in corporate collaboration technologies?
I am the CEO of a business that helped start the wave of cloud collaboration services. I have over 27 years of experience working within the IT industry and have enjoyed every minute of it. Asite’s position as a global leader of corporate collaborative technology or cocial as we call it around here, will only continue to grow.

What kind of clients do you serve and how do you approach them?
Historically, Asite managed the entire asset lifecycle for the AEC community, from concept through to completion. We now take care of the beyond by offering our Cloud based services to the owner operators and FM firms. Through the firm’s award winning collaborative Building Information Modelling (cBIM) technology, we cover the entire spectrum. However, the firm is increasingly being asked to look at every aspect of technology within these businesses from CRM, Digital Media through to Finance.

Do you have any plans for 2016 and beyond that you would like to share?
The next three years will see exponential growth for Asite, particularly in the infrastructure and ever increasing manufacturing sector. BIM is a key focus for our clients in the AEC community. The firm are the leading provider of cloud based model servers and we will continue to lead in this area.

What challenges lie ahead in 2016 for you as a CEO and for your company in 2016?
UK’s exit of Europe and Donald Trump’s hair. But seriously, the main challenge is keeping up with our clients’ expectations and ensuring that Asite delivers the best service for their needs. I love a challenge but I prefer solutions – and the Ateam always deliver, we have a very exciting future ahead of us.

Are there any specific industry based challenges you are facing now and in the future?
My Golf handicap, helping government’s around the world and globally shaping the future of BIM.

Do you have any further remarks to make?
Asite’s company ethos is to make a difference and enable clients to Get to IT!.

NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund Acquire Residential Properties Worth EUR 50 Million
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund Acquire Residential Properties Worth EUR 50 Million

Overall, NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund have acquired close to 200 residential units across the Berlin districts Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, Tiergarten and Mitte over the first six months of the year. The two partners expect to invest another EUR 100 million over the next years. NAS Invest is responsible for property asset management and the implementation of the individual project strategies, while BlueRock is in charge of AIFM compliant fund management and reporting.

“Our deep network enabled us to acquire these residential properties in Berlin off market. We will now modernise and reposition them in line with our fund strategy,” says Nikolai Dëus-von Homeyer, managing director at NAS Invest.

“The Berlin residential market still has huge growth potential. Our ability to leverage a local network enables us to identify unique investment opportunities that stand out in the European market including from a risk return perspective,” adds Ronny Pifko, director and founder of BlueRock Fund.

NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund target core plus and value add properties across German metropolitan regions and more particularly in Berlin for the “NAS Berlin Residential Growth” fund.

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