Corporate finance firm sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as confidence grows

Global corporate finance firm Clearwater, which has a base in Leeds, says it is set to close the first quarter of the financial year with a strong level of activity.

It notes the market is showing strong signs of a rebound, with corporate confidence growing.  

In the last six months, the business completed 21 deals, with a combined transaction value of over €1.3bn/£1.1bn, with over half of these deals completed during April, May, and June.

During the first half of the year, Clearwater worked on 18 transactions involving private equity, with a healthy  pipeline of PE mandates scheduled for the remainder of the year.

Senior individuals across Clearwater have also expanded their current leadership roles to focus further on the strategic development of the UK business.

This has included founding partner, Michael Reeves, expanding his role to chairman of the UK business, and Michael Loudon, partner and head of Industrials, joining the UK Board.  

At the start of the financial year 2024/25, Finn O’Driscoll was promoted to partner within the tech and tech services team.

Beyond the UK team Bruce Weir joined as international COO, supporting the firm across its European offices.  

Mark Taylor, UK CEO, said: “Our positive performance over the last 12 months is reflective of our ability to adapt to volatile market conditions.

“Our strategy of investing in key areas has worked well, and we’re seeing the rewards of that come to life.

“Tougher market conditions have played to our strengths, which has enabled us to navigate some of the challenges the rest of the market has been facing.  

“As we start to see an economic bounce back, we’re seeing deal activity take place in the market which wasn’t necessarily happening 12 months ago.

“Deal flow looks promising, and our pipeline suggests we’ll continue to see more positive performance throughout the rest of 2024.”

Marcus Archer, UK managing partner, said: “We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With a number of funds behind both deployment and portfolio exits, and with valuation levels improving, we expect a pick-up in activity through the remainder of 2024 and into 2025.

“Our sponsor coverage team is increasingly advising clients we work with to focus on a small group of PE partners who will have real conviction about their business and focus on value creation and strategic synergies as they prepare their businesses for PE  investment.”

Simon Chambers, head of UK Debt Advisory, added: “We are experiencing increased activity in the debt markets, principally driven by strategic acquisitions and refinancing opportunities, although we are starting to see an increase in new buyout activity. 

“Lending appetite remains bifurcated where businesses with strong credit characteristics in favoured  sectors are achieving top-of-the-market terms, otherwise, businesses are needing to search harder for  appropriate liquidity. 

“Debt continues to be an attractive asset class for investors evidenced by a continuous stream of direct lending fundraisings, whilst bank debt continues to be available but limited by a number of lenders and their relatively small hold levels for mid-market borrowers.”