July 3, 2013

By Graham Brown, corporate finance manager at RMT Accountants & Business Advisors Ltd
Time has done its usual flying trick, and while it might feel like we’ve only just escaped the clutches of the north east winter, we’ve already reached the halfway point of the year.
The first half of 2013 has seen the regional business community battling away in the same vein as we’ve got used to over recent years and making the best of testing economic conditions.
Good news has often been at a premium, but in the regional corporate finance market, a positive trend seems to have emerged over the last few months that we’re hopeful will carry on through the rest of the year and beyond.
Amid all the uncertainty of the last couple of years, we’ve rather got used to companies regularly holding off making investment, acquisition or disposal decisions, as they’ve looked for greater clarity on the economic outlook.
But over recent months, and in the continuing absence of this clarity making itself known to any of us, we’ve noticed that an increasing number of businesses are deciding that there’s only so long they can wait to get things done, and are therefore deciding to crack on and put long-cherished plans into action.
This seems to be happening across all market sectors, and especially within the owner/managed business arena within which I predominantly operate, where there’s perhaps been a steady realisation that we can’t do much to change the environment in which we’re working, but we can take steps to make the very best of it that we can.

Things like the availability of capital from the Regional Growth Fund and the Finance For Business North East Funds will doubtless be having an influence on this positive trend, and we’re hopeful that it is going to be sustained over the long term.
The same principles of sensible deal-making apply just as much today as they did in the better times.  Taking the time to plan out carefully well in advance what you want to achieve from both a business and a personal point of view, and examining all the available options thoroughly to find the one that fulfils these criteria remain crucial undertakings.
It’s equally important not to panic and take up the first investment or disposal opportunity that presents itself, when there could be more worthwhile options to investigate not much further down the line.
Even in the most difficult of times, positive opportunities will always come along for sound, well-prepared businesses, and putting your firm in that position should be your primary consideration.


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