Friday High Five – what’s been in the news this week

The start to the year was what we in our trade describe as a slow news week.

This week, by contrast, has been anything but.

A lot of the judgements we have made have been to take the caveat of “challenging” when viewing a set of results, or a deal. B+M, Very Group, Vimto owner Nichols and Daisy all produced results that showed different things – a tough retail environment, the benefit of brave cutbacks, or risky acquisitions, but also one where the spectre of debt costs hangs over like a dark cloud in Daisy’s case.

But deals are back, make no mistake about it. The sale of Blackburn’s Star Paper to a German trade buyer, of Heysham-based navigation specialist Forsberg to a Norwegian defence specialist and of concrete mixer Eco Ready-mix to trade give you some sense of the flavour of the current market.

These are solid well run businesses and the owners are taking money off the table to do something else with their lives.

On Tuesday, parliament was the focus of our attention as the UK’s tech representatives made the case for policy on skills that breaks out of the silos of London-centric centralised thinking.

On the same day, in the slightly warmer surroundings of committee room 8 the heat was being applied to the private equity investors from TDR who are backing Blackburn’s Issa Brothers.

The questioning from MPs was mostly fairly robust – though sometimes idiotic – but it was also a rare insight into the workings of highly leveraged private equity and the part they play in shaping businesses.

News is news, facts are sacred, but insights take time and effort and listening. We do our best, I think.

The other thing I have learnt recently is that the place to pick these insights up nowadays is the Padel court.

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