It is now more than four months since the seismic shock of the Brexit vote. The honeymoon period of the summer months has passed. The debate has turned to what flavour of Brexit we might be left with and the timing of Article 50 and the level of oversight MPs should have. There remain far more imponderables than facts and this seems set to be case for some time. For those of us who negotiate for a living, this is a reality that is inevitable. For the UK to get the best deal we have to trust in our ministers and civil servants – a transparent negotiation is one with at least an arm tied behind ones back!
So for business entrepreneurs, management teams and founders how should they react to two and a half years of pre Brexit uncertainty? Our current experience is a strong desire to control the controllable, focus on the same principles of business development and value growth. No business can move into a holding pattern for such a long period. Businesses go forward or back – standing still is not an option.
In the last four months we have seen an exceptionally buoyant corporate finance market. For the business owner looking to realise value let’s remember that current capital tax regime remains as favourable as it has done for years. UK trade acquirers remain well funded and the depreciation of sterling has increased the attractiveness of the UK particularly for the US acquirers who remain by far the most active buyers of UK assets. The wall of private equity raised in recent years still needs to be deployed and the pursuit of buy and build strategies by PE businesses grows ever more voracious.
So for an owner thinking of selling, now is a good time to consider acting. Waiting for two and half years is simply too long and ignores those fundamentals. Where an ultimate Brexit falls on the hard/soft spectrum will take time and careful (and confidential) negotiation. The UK economy will remain the fifth largest in the world. In our experience controlling the controllable is the best way forward.