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Virus crisis pushes UK national debt to £2tn

Borrowing from April to July this year was the highest since records began, according to official statistics

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The UK’s public debt has skyrocketed to just over £2tn for the first time amid the government’s spending drive to support the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

In July, net debt – excluding public banks – increased by nearly £230bn from the same period last year to £2.004tn, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. Debt was 100.5% of GDP, an increase of 20.4 percentage points compared to July 2019.

Borrowing hiked up to £150.5bn from April to July, £128.4bn more than last year and the highest in any April to July period since records began in 1993.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “This crisis has put the public finances under significant strain as we have seen a hit to our economy and taken action to support millions of jobs, businesses and livelihoods.”

“Today’s figures are a stark reminder that we must return our public finances to a sustainable footing over time, which will require taking difficult decisions,” he added in a 21 August statement.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “This week’s economic data has continued to point to a UK economy that is continuing to shake off its post lockdown hangover. The staggered restart of the UK economy appears to be standing it in good stead with lower infection rates than its European counterparts, and this could well be helping with respect to a more steady recovery in some of the broader economic data.”

“Make no mistake these are huge sums of money, with UK government debt now above £2tn, but without some of the furlough money that has been repaid by a host of UK companies they could have been much higher,” Hewson added.

“This might give the Chancellor some wriggle room as we head into the autumn, especially if this morning’s August flash PMIs continue to support the narrative of a rebound in the UK economy.”

Government support programmes include the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, which has approved £13.68bn loans through lenders, according to the Treasury’s latest statistics on 16 August.

The large businesses programme, known as the CLBILS, totalled £3.5bn and the 100% government backed Bounce Back Loan scheme has approved £35.47bn worth of loans.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email  Bérengère Sim

Source: https://www.penews.com/articles/virus-crisis-pushes-uk-national-debt-to-2tn-20200821

Private Equity

Lorax Capital Partners pulls in $142m for its sophomore fund

Lorax Capital Partners has pulled in $142m for its sophomore fund and has named Apex Group to supply administration and corporate services.

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Lorax Capital Partners has pulled in $142m for its sophomore fund and has named Apex Group to supply administration and corporate services.

The fund, LCP II, has a target size of $250m and will focus on midcap companies in Egypt that are focusing on local consumption and production as well as financial inclusion.

Lorax will also back companies that are looking to expand regionally.

The investor aims to implement high-quality governance and environmental and social practices within portfolio companies and help them increase their value creation.

There have been five LPs to commit to Lorax’s new fund, so far.

Lorax Capital Partners director of operations Adnan Razzak said, ”We appointed Apex due to their strong reputation and ability to provide the all-inclusive fund administration, accounting and investor reporting services required across multiple jurisdictions.

“We have been particularly impressed with their ability to guide us through regulatory challenges and our decision to domicile the fund in the Netherlands. Our management team has an unmatched track record in sourcing, executing and managing transactions in Egypt and Apex’s support will enable us to focus on these core competencies.”

Founded in 2015, Lorax is an Egypt-focused private equity firm and over the past five years it has deployed around $175m into five companies.

Last year, Lorax aided Helios Investment Partners and Enterprise Fund with their purchase of a 96.6 per cent stake in agricultural seeds provider Misr Hytech Seed International.

Copyright © 2020 FinTech Global

Source: https://www.altassets.net/private-equity-news/by-news-type/fund-news/lorax-capital-partners-pulls-in-142m-for-its-sophomore-fund.html

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Private Equity

Lobby group for Black women urges firms to ‘go beyond solidarity statements’

The 300-strong group calls asset managers to build an anti-racist portfolio, divesting from companies that benefit from business models that perpetuate racial inequities

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Industry group Black Women in Asset Management has published an open letter calling on institutions to promote racial equity through their portfolios — and take action if companies they invest in do not.

The letter comes as the City took a hard look at racial diversity within its ranks over the summer this year.

“As Black women professionals in the asset management industry, we call on investment firms and institutional investors in our industry to go beyond solidarity statements and instead commit to action, activism, and accountability to dismantle the racial inequities plaguing society,” the letter, released on 26 October, reads.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of three police officers in the US on 25 May and the disproportionate impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on people from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic backgrounds triggered Black Lives Matter protests around the world, including in London and elsewhere across the UK.

In response, financial services firms and their executives made statements saying the sector could do better and promised to fight for a better society, although activists have said that actions speak louder than words.

BWAM, the industry organisation that counts 300 members, was founded in May 2019 by Jacqueline Taiwo, principal at TowerBrook Capital Partners, and Mariam Akanbi, senior legal counsel at ARCH Emerging Markets Partners.

“Dismantling systemic racism creates a more sustainable and equitable society. However, investment firms have been slow to see racism as a serious investment risk,” said Taiwo in a statement, explaining why the group decided to pen the letter.

The open letter makes five recommendations for investment firms and institutional investors. These include calling on firms to build an anti-racist portfolio, which would entail setting metrics to examine a company’s demonstrable commitment to racial diversity.

Following the research, the group subsequently urged asset managers to divest from companies that benefit from business models that perpetuate racial inequities or target vulnerable communities, citing examples like prison labour and immigration detention.

BWAM also highlights the necessity for communication of expectations to portfolio boards on considering racial implications on strategic decisions, pointing out that this is already the case on issues such as climate change.

Other recommendations include committing resources to encourage young Black women to work in finance as well as advocating for policy change both externally and internally.

“I believe BWAM’s recommendations provide a meaningful framework to bring about long overdue change in our industry,” said Adebanke Adeyemo, general counsel of Vantage Infrastructure and a member of BWAM’s impact committee, said in a statement.

“I am publicly endorsing this letter because I know that many of my peers may not feel empowered to do so. I have been there in my career and I understand it.”

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

Source: https://www.penews.com/articles/lobby-group-for-black-women-urges-firms-to-go-beyond-solidarity-statements-20201026

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Private Equity

Dunkin’ reportedly in talks with PE-backed group to go private

The deal worth $8.8bn with Inspire Brands, owned by private equity firm Roark Capital, would delist the coffee and doughnuts chain

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Owner of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings could buy company in deal worth $8.8bn

Dunkin’ Brands Group is reportedly in talks to go private in a sale to private equity-backed Inspire Brands.

The New York Times reported Sunday, 25 October, that Dunkin’, the parent company of the former Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins ice cream, could sell itself for $106.50 a share, a 20% premium over Friday’s closing price, for an implied market value of about $8.8bn. The Times said a deal could be announced as soon as today, 26 October.

Inspire Brands, which is backed by Roark Capital, owns a number of restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Jimmy John’s.

In a statement to the Times, Dunkin’ confirmed that there have been preliminary talks over an acquisition, but a deal is not certain and neither side will comment further unless the transaction is finalized.

Dunkin’ Brands has more than 13,000 franchised Dunkin’ locations and about 8,000 Baskin-Robbins locations.

Write to Mike Murphy at AskNewswires@dowjones.com

From Dow Jones Newswires

Source: https://www.penews.com/articles/dunkin-reportedly-in-talks-with-pe-backed-group-to-go-private-20201026

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