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FRP ADVISORY EXPANDS INTO DEBT ADVISORY SERVICES

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FRP ADVISORY EXPANDS INTO DEBT ADVISORY SERVICES

Acquisition of Litmus Advisory adds three debt advisory partners to FRP Advisory, Dave Edwards, Andy Dimmock, Nick Grainger

Arrival brings over 70 years of collective debt advisory experience in asset based lending Trio of new FRP Advisory partners raised and structured debt for growth-fuelled deals worth £1bn over the past 12 years.

FRP Advisory, the business advisory firm, has acquired Litmus Advisory, the debt advisory firm and specialists in structuring finance for companies and private equity firms looking at asset based lending (“ABL”).

Dave Edwards

Dave Edwards

The arrival of a specialist debt advisory team is part of FRP Advisory’s continued incremental expansion of its services from offering both restructuring solutions for companies, lenders, and investors to advice for companies looking to raise finance as part of an organic growth or mergers and acquisitions strategy.

The three directors of Litmus Advisory, Dave Edwards, Nick Grainger and Andy Dimmock, join FRP Advisory as partners based in the firm’s London office. They will continue to provide advice for a range of borrowers across the UK, US and other leading western European countries on the structuring of debt facilities and who are likely to use asset based lending. The three new FRP Advisory partners are experienced in debt finance advisory for sectors ranging from the food, retail and consumer industries to engineering, manufacturing and professional services.

Since Litmus’ formation in 2004, Edwards, Grainger and Dimmock have collectively advised on and arranged debt finance for borrowers. Over the last five years they have been involved in over 80 transactions, often M&A, with a combined lending value of around £1bn. During the last 12 months Litmus Advisory has sourced, structured and arranged over £150m of debt in a variety of trading sectors for UK and other European borrowers.

The trio’s arrival as partners at FRP Advisory complements the rest of the firm’s breadth of experience in offering business advisory solutions across industry sectors, often at points of business critical change for management.

Geoff Rowley, partner at FRP Advisory said: “FRP Advisory is constantly looking to meet the needs of management and lenders as they look for diligent, commercial advice at periods of critical change. The welcome arrival of Dave, Andy and Nick, three experienced, proven debt advisory professionals, is a response to demand from clients for our independent advisory services as we help them through their periods of growth and change in their quest to create value. We look forward to continue growing our range of financial advisory services.”

Dave Edwards, managing director of Litmus Advisory and now partner at FRP Advisory, said: “The FRP Advisory culture and ethos of a partner-led, senior hands on approach to providing business solutions and advice fits with what Nick, Andy and I have been doing for the past 12 years in debt advisory with Litmus.  This is an exciting time for the ABL market both in the UK and increasingly across Europe and we look forward to incrementally growing the debt advisory offering as part of the bigger FRP Advisory family, helping companies across all sectors with the provision of independent, objective, debt finance advice.

Our joining FRP Advisory allows the continuation of our independence from full service firms or providers of finance, ensuring our objectives can be fully aligned with those of our clients – unaffected by conflicts of interest.”

Edwards, Grainger and Dimmock advise on the structuring of debt facilities for clients seeking to use asset based lending, often first time users and typically in three key situations: refinancing; acquisitions, disposals or mergers; restructurings. In M&A sponsors such as private equity firms may seek acquisition or merger financing for a corporate finance transaction such as a management buy-out or buy-in. Asset based lending is used as an alternative to cash-flow based debt structures in order to increase or optimise the level of debt available to a borrower and minimise the burden of debt amortisation.

Litmus’ assignments have typically involved raising funds of between £5 million and £150 million, with a sweet spot of between £10 million and £50 million, in order to refinance existing funding arrangements or to provide acquisition finance and working capital for primarily sponsor-backed corporate finance transactions.

Dave Edwards founded Litmus Advisory in 2004 and brings to FRP Advisory nearly 30 years of financial services experience in receivables finance and ABL.  Dave has been involved in every Litmus assignment, predominantly in initial scoping, structuring and closing. Dave started his career with Credit Factoring International, which later became Lombard NatWest. Dave was pioneering in his use of ABL for private equity buyouts which was considered a rarity at the time and was hired by GE Capital in 2000 to launch its big ticket ABL offering in the UK.

Andy Dimmock joined Litmus in 2004, while Nick Grainger joined in 2005 and each bring over 25 years of experience in the ABL and related specialist debt advisory markets. Andy works extensively with asset based lenders and valuers to enhance debt offerings to Litmus clients. Andy has been involved in the ABL industry in the UK since its inception and was approached in 1997 by GE Capital to bring all ABL to the UK market. He established GE’s operations in the Midlands.

Nick focuses on structuring and optimizing lender terms.  He has a thorough understanding of product range and, most importantly ABL’s appetite for risk, enabling him to provide clear advice to his wide-ranging client base. Prior to joining Litmus, Nick had a similar role in the ABL market having held senior positions with LloydsTSB, NM Rothschild and GMAC Commercial Finance, ensuring he has a depth and breadth of understanding of the industry and network across both sponsors, corporate borrowers and lenders.

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U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller

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U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller 1

WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.

Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.

“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.

Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.

While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.

“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”

Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.

“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.

“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”

The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.

“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.

She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.

Gorman’s books are both due out in September.

Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape

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Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape 2

By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD

Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.

As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.

As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?

Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world

No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.

In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.

Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.

The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses

Justin Pike

Justin Pike

Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.

Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.

The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.

As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.

But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.

A digital world post-COVID

Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.

There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.

Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.

Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.

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Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says

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Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says 3

LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.

“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.

The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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