Year Ahead 2016: Jonathan Jones, Squire Patton Boggs
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Jonathan Jones, corporate finance partner at Squire Patton Boggs
What didn’t happen in 2015 that was expected to?
A couple of things. The first is that 2015 was not the corporate finance bonanza that everyone was expecting. Whilst it was a good year, it felt hard work at times. Secondly, having struggled through the recession, there was an expectation that the owners of lots of family businesses might ‘cash in their chips’. Whilst that happened a bit (e.g. Seabrooks), there wasn’t a huge rush for the exit.
What should we expect to see in 2016?
More of the same, I think. There is still a weight of money with the PE houses and banks that means they are keen on opportunities and quality assets get fought over hard. Trade buyers (both overseas and domestic) are increasingly looking at opportunities buoyed by strong balance sheets, cash piles and the availability of bank debt.
What would be a sign that things are going well?
Continued M&A activity at relatively sensible levels of multiple.
What would be a sign that things are going badly?
Banks and PE houses ‘sitting on their hands’.
What do you want to see happen in 2016?
More of the same. I’m quite happy with 1.5 or 2% GDP growth for the next 5 years. I don’t want to see a short term M&A bubble that is ultimately unsustainable.
Who or what do you predict will have a successful year?
The Leeds LEP led by Roger Marsh and Leeds City Council led by Tom Riordan. Both are very sensible individuals, doing the right things and helping Leeds remain, and become, dynamic, vibrant, interesting and relevant. All it needs now is a premiership football team.
Who or what is most at risk/faces a difficult year?
What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
John Lewis and the new Victoria Quarter opening.
What are your words of wisdom for the year ahead?
In relation to the economy – ‘steady as she goes’.