We’re seeing opportunities now that weren’t there before Covid-19, or are greater than they were previously. We are now being chased by a number of business owners that weren’t looking to sell. They were maybe in a strong position or hadn’t really thought about it, but the whole Covid situation has forced them to take a look at their business.

We’re now being chased by these businesses that have found themselves in a weaker position, but also by some smaller businesses where it just makes absolute sense for them. They’re approaching us to become part of something bigger and give them the opportunity to grow their business with the resources we provide, whether that be funding or through our team of people that we have – our directors, contacts and the opportunities we can bring in terms of business growth development.

We’ve never previously done a deal through business brokers because of their business model where they over-value businesses. They’re all about listings, they work on a long term program where they over value businesses to get these listings and then it’s a slow burner while they manage the business owner’s expectations until they get to the real market value of that company. We’re seeing a change in their approach now and we’re getting way more business brokers approaching us. This has resulted in a situation where we’ve now got more potentials in our pipeline than we’ve ever had before.

We’re at around £400million of revenue with real potential businesses that we’re really looking at, and that’s after having filtered it heavily to get down to that number. We’re actively involved with around five companies that are either at legal or head of terms level. The activity is there, Covid for us has been really busy. We’ve been non-stop and the opportunities have been great. The big difference that I’m seeing is that everyone is now sitting up and paying attention. If there was ever a thought in a business owner’s mind to exit, now would just about be the right time to do it.

But there’s no doubt about it, the numbers and the valuations have been affected, and what we’re seeing is that some of the smaller companies that don’t really fit out criteria for acquisition at group level, are approaching our subsidiary businesses. In these cases it would make sense for them to consolidate their business with one of our smaller businesses. They might not have the £10million revenue that United Capital requires, but they might work for McGill, Alliance or Saltire where it would make strategic and geographical sense for these companies.

I think there’s going to be way more of that, but our focus is on the larger businesses with 10, 15 up to £30million in revenue, and there’s plenty of activity going on there, a lot more than we’ve seen pre-Covid.

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