Parliament has been sent packing, the Brexit outcome remains a battleground and what will surely prove to be a deeply divisive general election is lurking around the corner. Major infrastructure projects remain in limbo, the future value of the pound is anyone’s guess, and nobody knows under what terms we will trade with the rest of the world in just seven weeks’ time.
It is hard to imagine a more distracting or debilitating environment in which to do business. If you’re experiencing any feelings of confusion when faced with important decisions, you are not remotely alone. Westminster politicians have helpfully assured us that the spirit of indecision is not at all uncommon.
But, as ever, moments of crisis provide opportunities for the brave as well as pitfalls for the unwary. Those that can keep a clear head and chart a firm course through a maelstrom will tend to emerge in better shape than their rivals when the situation settles, as it inevitably will in the longer term.
Among the far-sighted, or at least brave, we must include Galliford Try and Bovis Homes, which have agreed between them that right now is a good time to launch a billion-pound deal.
If all goes ahead as expected, an exchange of cash, shares and debt will see two new entities emerge – a bigger Bovis bolstered by the acquisition of Galliford’s housing businesses, plus a slimmer Galliford Try more focused on construction.
Westminster politicians have helpfully assured us that the spirit of indecision is not at all uncommon
The timing may be surprising – it can feel as if nobody should be planning anything more consequential than a chimp’s tea-party at the moment – but a little reflection suggests that this month may indeed be a good time to divest or acquire, according to taste.
For Bovis, the proposed deal represents an opportunity to build scale, expand into related business areas and adjacent geographies, and to acquire a land bank for the future. For Galliford Try, the divestment reduces debt and sharpens focus on major projects and infrastructure.
Both strategies make sense in the face of looming market disruption and difficult trading ahead, even if they do represent somewhat opposite approaches to creating clarity of vision.
But both evidently agree that now is not the time to sit tight, hunker down, hope for the best or postpone a significant move.
As ever, the future will belong to the brave. But it’s up to each of us to decide what brave means in the context of our own business – and to decide which bold moves might simply be foolhardy.
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