Football fans are a naturally optimistic bunch. A club may sink down the table and lose week after week, but there is always the hope of turning it around in “the next game”.
Football fans are a naturally optimistic bunch. A club may sink down the table and lose week after week, but there is always the hope of turning it around in “the next game”. That’s why football, for the vast majority of fans, isn’t really about winning. It’s about disappointment and broken dreams (particularly true if you support Spurs).
In the world of business, there is a similar kind of optimism to that of the erstwhile footie fan, especially when the economy is the footballing equivalent of Accrington Stanley. ‘Now it’ll get better,’ entrepreneurs and economists say, only for £250 billion to be wiped off the FTSE in a day.
One of the repeated refrains is that now is a good time for M&A. This too is failing to convince. Research by professional services firm Grant Thornton found that M&A activity among UK companies fell to its lowest level in 15 years in the third quarter of 2008 (267 compared with 442 in the previous quarter and 545 in the same period the year before). The last time there were fewer deals in a quarter was 1993.
If you’re considering an exit, it’s not all bad. Purchases of UK companies by offshore interests held up in Q3, with 192 announced deals for a total of £32.7 billion. While deal numbers were down on the previous quarter (280 in Q2), values were up at £13.2 billion.
In the battered public markets, too, the sole stimulus is coming from overseas. Research by Business XL’ s sister title Growth Company Investor into the performance of companies from East and South East Asia listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), found that £2.9 billion has been raised to date by 147 companies. Predictably, China dominates the list with 72 companies, which have raised a total of £1.7 billion from investors.
For UK businesses, Asia continues to be the great hope on many fronts. Speaking to entrepreneurs and advisers operating in the region, it is widely agreed that 12 per cent year-on-year GDP growth won’t last. Nevertheless, growth of around seven or eight per cent remains impressive when compared to Europe or North America.
So there’s hope for Accrington Stanley yet.