Midnight pizzas and runaway sheep – the inside story on managing a tricky financial move
Executing a refinancing deal of this scale and complexity takes a lot of planning and commitment, and it all started when I became chief executive in June 2008.
One of the best bits of advice I got early on was to put together a top-class team.
We secured veteran operator Jim Martin as chairman and got experienced advisers on board including Shore Capital, Halliwells, Financial Dynamics and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
To inject competitive tension I decided to pursue both the private equity and institutional fundraising routes simultaneously
To inject competitive tension I decided to pursue both the private equity and institutional fundraising routes simultaneously. It certainly complicated matters but had the desired effect of achieving better value for us.
The time pressure mounted following the announcement on 24 March that we were looking to refinance. I was acutely aware that this, coupled with the inevitable press speculation, could unsettle suppliers, customers and colleagues. So we set a tight deadline of 30 April and drove the team relentlessly.
Then the regular meetings and late nights started in earnest. Lawyers, accountants and advisers worked round the clock (literally) to hit their interdependent deadlines.
Keeping to the timetable was like herding sheep - there was always one determined to head off in the wrong direction just at a critical gateway
Takeaway pizzas at midnight became a regular occurrence. The stress did frazzle tempers at times but we quickly moved on.
Keeping to the timetable was like herding sheep – there was always one determined to head off in the wrong direction just at a critical gateway. We finished the process at 5.35pm on 30 April and announced to the City minutes before they closed.
It was a fantastic result. The team delivered a deeply complicated fundraising and debt restructuring package in six weeks that moved us from £16.9m net debt to a net cash-positive position for the first time in four years.