Business in the Midwest is beginning to show early signs of recovery from the worst effects of the pandemic, with the Limerick office of Focus Capital Partners reporting a healthy “pipeline of transactions” slated for the year ahead.
“Last year was a year like no other. We had a global pandemic, enforced lockdowns, Brexit and a US presidential election along with the slowdown in the world economy,” Donal Cantillon, director of Focus Capital Partners in Limerick, said.
Combined, these developments had given rise to a “great deal of volatility and uncertainty” in the market, Cantillon said, but a sense of calm and confidence was slowly beginning to re-emerge among the firm’s clients in the Midwest.
“We now know the impact of Brexit, President Joe Biden is in office in the US, the vaccine rollout is gathering pace week on week, and we’re emerging from our enforced lockdowns to a new normal,” Cantillon said.
“We’re currently hiring across both our Limerick and Dublin offices as we keep pace with the demand for our services.”
A boutique corporate finance firm, Focus Capital Partners provides services to clients nationwide.
In addition to traditional corporate finance, it specialises in debt funding, equity fundraising, mergers and acquisitions and tax advisory services.
“Our experience in dealing with the SME sector, where a lot of family-owned companies operate, has been that – after an economic shock – a lot of business owners reassess their own personal circumstances and often look at their options, including an exit or partial sale of their business,” Cantillon said.
“We are seeing this trend continue post-pandemic, where there are a large number of trade sales or private equity-sponsored management buy-ins and buy-outs.”
The number of private equity firms opting for minority stake investments was also on the rise, Cantillon said, giving some business owners the chance to “take cash off the table and stay in for a second bite of the cherry at a later date”.
Focus Capital is also very active in raising growth equity for clients, according to Cantillon, particular in the technology, medtech and healthcare sectors, all of which are performing well at present.
“Raising equity for growth companies is a big part of what we do,” he said. “We’ve built up a considerable network of high net-worth individuals who are seeking opportunities, particularly in the negative interest-rate environment, in businesses to which they can add value and take to the next level.”
Focus Capital Partners has a healthy “pipeline of transactions” coming through for the year ahead, suggesting considerable pent-up demand in the market.
“Overall, right now, the key market indicators, both locally in Limerick and nationally, are pointing to a busy year ahead and we look forward to working with our clients to assist them in achieving their strategic aims,” he said.
In addition to his role with Focus Capital Partners, Cantillon is also vice-president of Limerick Chamber, which recently commissioned Indecon to carry out a report on the future development of Limerick city.
“It’s an exciting time for the city and region as we exit Covid, with the Indecon report providing a roadmap and economic model that can be adopted to create a thriving and vibrant city and midwest region of the future,” he said.
Cantillon will take take on the role of president of Limerick Chamber next year. “I am very much looking forward to working with the region’s key stakeholders and, in particular, Limerick 2030 DAC, which holds the key to unlocking the tremendous potential of Limerick city via the development of its various sites across the city,” he said.