Seminar helps companies when opportunity knocks | 22 April 09

COMPANIES got the inside track on the best way to buy businesses during the economic downturn at a joint event organised by leading North law firm Ward Hadaway and chartered accountants Tait Walker.

More than 50 guests assembled at Ward Hadaway’s Quayside offices on Tuesday April 21 for the seminar, which looked at the timely issue of how to acquire companies in financial trouble.

Chaired by Ward Hadaway’s head of corporate finance, Martin Hulls, the event – entitled ‘Recession Opportunities’ - featured five speakers who each addressed different aspects of the issue.

Ward Hadaway insolvency and corporate recovery associate Jane Garvin looked at the best time to buy a business in financial difficulty; joint head of employment Joe Thornhill addressed what happens to staff when distressed companies are bought; and head of environment Stephen Campbell looked at what environmental liabilities the acquirer of a business in financial trouble may inherit.

Steve Plaskitt, corporate finance partner at Tait Walker Corporate Finance, outlined how best to structure a bid for a business in difficulties while Gordon Goldie, corporate recovery partner and licensed insolvency practitioner at Tait Walker, gave the inside track on how insolvency practitioners operate and what they look for from a would-be acquirer.

Martin Hulls, partner and head of corporate finance at Ward Hadaway, said: “While the current recession does bring problems to a wide range of businesses, it also offers a number of opportunities for companies which are in a strong position and looking to expand by acquisition.

“Many businesses experiencing financial problems have excellent underlying prospects but are hamstrung by debts or other historical issues.

“Acquiring such assets, often at lower prices than during less turbulent economic conditions, can reap major rewards but potential purchasers need to tread carefully.

“This is why we at Ward Hadaway organised this seminar with Tait Walker and it seems clear from the responses and feedback we have received that there is a real appetite out there for this kind of deal – and this kind of crucial advice.”

A Q&A piece on issues raised by the seminar can be found by clicking here.

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