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Hines Associates Ltd is a London based corporate finance firm advising clients from all around the world on opportunities in financial services in the UK and Ireland. We caught up with Richard Hines to find out more.
Established in 2002 by an experienced M&A team from Citigroup’s European investment bank, Hines focuses on the financial services market in the UK and Ireland. Hines has a strong record in creating and executing off-market transactions and helping business owners grow their businesses prior to an exit.
Richard explores the impact of the pandemic on the work his company undertakes in more detail.
“Much to our surprise and delight the pandemic has not slowed the investor demand for financial service companies in the UK and Ireland. Certain sectors such as insurance broking, service businesses and those with recurring revenue such as wealth management have proven to be very resilient. Indeed working from home and marketing via webinar has improved productivity for many companies. There remains healthy investor appetite for such businesses driven primarily by the PE industry.
We are also beginning to see the larger insurers and banks focus their businesses more tightly following losses attributable to the consequences of the pandemic. The pressure on capital bases has accelerated the move to focus on areas of competitive advantage. Insurers are exiting lines of business in which they have underperformed. At the same time, young specialist underwriting businesses are capturing market share. There is a general “hardening” of insurance pricing causing further capital strain. There is a wall of fresh money looking to back the most capable business to capture market share.
Whilst we see this as a favourable backdrop in terms of M&A activity, we have in the past year also widened our service offering to include financial due diligence. We have hired experienced transaction services professionals from the Big Four accounting firms and combined their experience with our deep understanding of the value drivers of each segment and the M&A process.
This produces a more focused, commercial proposition. We have gained traction with both sellers and buyers alike and are able to play a wider, more flexible role in helping our clients buy and sell businesses.
Our firm came about after the internet boom and bust in 2002 when we noticed that there was a strong international interest for businesses with skills that can be deployed cross-border. London and the UK are home to global banks, insurers and asset managers, all of whom attract great interest from international buyers. At a time of dislocation, this is repeating itself and we expect significant inwards investment into UK financial services from the USA and the Far East.
Exciting times for all of us.