Independents join Deals Awards judging panels

    A survey by The Business Magazine of corporate finance specialists in the south has led to some key changes to the Deals Awards nomination and judging process from 2019.

    With nominations already being canvassed for the Thames Valley Deals Awards, the changes will ensure that a broader range of opinions help guide the process of determining finalists and winners for each category.

    The two events for 2019 are:

      Thames Valley Deals Awards

      Madejski Stadium, Reading – April 4, 2019

      Solent Deals Awards

      Hilton at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton – May 23, 2019

    Awards chairman David Murray: “The Deals Awards have been running for a decade, and have a reputation as the best-attended and most eagerly-anticipated corporate finance events in the region.

    “It has always been the case that sponsors have been involved in judging – specifically because they have the intimate knowledge of the deals environment to make informed decisions. However, there have been requests to open up the judging to more independents – to ensure that a broader range of views can help the panel reach the best decisions. To that end, from 2019, the panel will include a number of independent judges. I’m delighted that we already have names confirmed.”

    These include Angela Lane, who qualified with PwC, had 18 years in private equity with 3i, and who now is chairman of the audit committee at Dunedin Enterprise Investment Trust plc, as well as having a number of non-exec director roles; David Henderson, former CEO of a UK private bank, and an experienced non-exec director/chairman from the financial services industry; Peter Jacobs, senior adviser with Apiary Capital, and former partner of Primary Capital; and Nigel Vaughan who has had over thirty years of international board-level experience in both an executive and non-executive capacity across a wide selection of businesses in the south.

    “All four are tremendously experienced and will add greatly to the judging process. We plan to announce more names soon,” said Murray.

    He added: “Those who have attended our judging panel in the past will know the care we have taken to reach fair decisions. Whenever a judge has an interest in a specific category he/she has to leave the room. However, there can be a perception that sponsor judges exert too much influence – so increasing the number of independents will put that argument to rest.”

    In addition, the organisers and judges are encouraging a wider base of nominations – particularly in categories such as bank and non-bank lender – to ensure that the panel considers the broadest range of firms and deals. This process will begin this month (November).

    Murray added: “The success of the Deals Awards depends on the support of the corporate finance community – coupled with our reputation for integrity and ‘fair play’.”

    Companies and management teams

    For the first time this year, at the Solent event, the Management Teams were highlighted (and interviewed) as part of the ‘show’. This will continue as we focus increasingly on the companies and managements that are the beneficiaries of the professional advice and funding.

    To that end, the targets and acquirers will be encouraged to give their verdicts on the deals and quality of advice received.

    Awards categories

    Following feedback from our corporate finance contacts across the region, we have added a new Banker of the Year category and introduced a Non-Bank Lender award.

    The 2019 categories are:

    • Bank of the Year
    • Banker of the Year
    • Private Equity Firm
    • Non-Bank Lender
    • Law Firm
    • Lawyer
    • Corporate Finance Team
    • Corporate Finance Adviser
    • Young Dealmaker (under 35)
    • Due Diligence Team
    • Management Team
    • Small Deal of the Year
    • Mid-Range Deal of the Year
    • Large Deal of the Year
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    Nomination forms

    These are deal awards – so the nomination form should include as much detail on a deal as practical. Testimonials from the target and/or acquirer company add further validity to the nomination and should be solicited where possible.

    Nominations for teams and individuals should be detailed – and include supplementary evidence.

    Judges will discount large volumes of self-nominations. They will also discount nominations where a lender has simply increased a facility for a customer/client. Where funding is an integral part of an M&A transaction, or significant enough to facilitate a company’s growth strategy, this will be allowed.

    Murray stressed: “As there are independent judges for 2019, it is key that the nomination form includes enough detail to allow an independent to make an informed decision.”

    Judging process

    The closing date for nominations has been brought forward by two weeks to allow a fortnight for the judges to study the entries and do their due diligence.

    Judging on the night

    To prevent ‘fixing’ whereby a particular vote on the night is skewed by the number of tables a firm has booked, the vote for each of three Deals categories will be, from 2019, 70% judging panel and 30% votes on the night.