Latest updates & news from Operational Development

March 2013 Changing attitudes of Private Owners

Since mid-January, there's been a marked shift in the attitude of some older owners of
private businesses.

Many had planned to exit their businesses and harvest their investments a number of years ago
but had put that decision on hold in order to try and "see-out" the current economic doldrums.

They're now taking stock of the current economic and market conditions and those that lie ahead and are assessing the possibility that, even if economic and market conditions do not deteriorate (which they could), they are not going to get much better and not soon.

As a consequence, they are starting to plan for "risk reduction" by harvesting their investment in their businesses now. Even though the cash they release won't earn much interest, they see it as preferable to hanging on in the hope that their business will improve and that the financial markets will also improve. Some owners have been hanging on since the economic turmoil started in 2007/2008 and are now well past their original planned "retirement" date. And "mortality" starts to feature in everyone's planning at some stage!

We are finding that a partial exit - whereby they sell but stay with their business and retain an ongoing minority stake to benefit from any future upturn ("a second bite of the cherry") - has particular resonance with some of these business leaders. And this structure is also very
attractive to some of our acquisitive clients.

November 2012 I-Spy Buyers Update

Over the years 40+ years we've been around, about 2/3rds of our mandates from clients have
been to sell businesses. While still active on the sell-side and on "transitions" (exit/buy-out deals between existing co-shareholders), we are currently also very active on the buy-side, with a
higher-than-normal number of pro-active acquisition searches in hand.

Our "qualifying" process for such acquisition searches ensures that we only carry them out for clients who have :-

Our current pro-active "above the radar" acquisition searches include:-

Project Algol- software and IT services to the professional sectors, Ebit £1m+
Project Barrier- manufacturing or services for Defence, Rail or Aerospace, T/o £10m+
Project Brace- manufacturing, distribution or B2B services, T/o up to £100m
Project Chase- UK industrial, manufacturer or distributor, Ebit £1m+
Project Phoenix- UK turn-round opportunities, T/o £20m - £100m
Project Ranger- stand-alone UK manufacturing or distribution, Ebit upto £1m
Project Waterfall- UK and International suppliers to oil & gas, mineral extraction & power   sectors, with T/o £5m - £50m

The clients behind all the above acquisition searches meet our criteria of being serious buyers,
with strategic imperatives and with the funds to match.

20th July 2012 Mike Cooper

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Mike Cooper.

Mike founded Operational Development in 1968 and was, until his retirement some 5 years ago,
its Managing Director and prime mover.

Mike's skills and integrity earned him respect from colleagues and clients alike. Integrity and client focus were the principles upon which Mike built Operational Development. These principles remain key touchstones for the way the business continues to be run today under the leadership of Chris Eynon, who worked closely with Mike after joining the company in 1980.

Mike will be missed but will be remembered with fondness and respect.

February 2012 Project Phoenix New Acquisition Search

Although January 2012 was slow to get started, when it did get going, the New Year has
been busy.

In particular we've taken on a new acquisition search for a well-funded client who is seeking
"turn-round" opportunities. Their general criteria are companies which are involved in :-

In addition to this new project, we remain active advising on disposals and on the other
pro-active acquisition searches we have in hand for clients.

December 2011 Busy end to 2011

2011 ended with a flurry of activity up to mid-December.

The successful acquisition of a very profitable distribution company for a major client was completed in the quarter. And, despite the current financial markets, this was achieved in 4 months from initial introduction to completion a speedy process even in the best of times.

Clients for whom we carry out acquisition searches have confirmed their continued demand for such opportunities, with some raising the thresholds of some of their criteria.

So, we look forward into 2012 with confidence and send our Best Wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.