30 Mar 2020
It’s been a week now since the enforced COVID-19 restrictions came into force and we don’t need to tell you about the issues everyone is facing at the moment, but we wanted to outline some thoughts on how companies might be able to manage liquidity and selectively draw down on the well-publicised government initiatives.
In the current markets short term liquidity has to be a primary focus for most businesses. It is fair to say that “liquidity is King,” so where there is a liquidity requirement, think carefully about how this money goes into the capital structure. We have useful and relevant experience of this, and we are currently working with banks on live examples and are happy to share our experiences.
From our experience, banks are supporting distressed situations when approached. Generally, there is a belief that these institutions will be difficult, however, many of the funders we are working with are using the current situation as an opportunity to enhance their own images and repair broken relationships. Corporates should use this willingness to their own advantage.
Whilst measures such as VAT breaks and some selective deferral of taxes will help to keep the lights on, and the ability to furlough staff will reduce the fear of permanently losing employees, this is not a medium-term solution.
In our view, more support is needed to assist Mid Market corporates with many of the measures aimed at larger or smaller companies. The below provides some more short-term solutions, though you should be mindful not to damage lender relationships that may be needed for future amendment discussions. We suggest keeping your stakeholders engaged and informed, recognising that they too are getting used to a totally new way of operating under the COVID restrictions.
Zeus Capital has worked on transactions valued in excess of £8.9 billion since 2013 and has a hands-on approach to supporting companies navigate through turbulent trading conditions
We have an experienced team across corporate finance, debt and equity advisory that can assist you to understand the short- and medium-term funding impact of the current crisis
Zeus Capital has deep relationships across a broad range of both debt and equity providers and can provide totally independent advice on the optimal funding routes available to you.
For advice on responding to COVID-19 as a public company, or to explore public company funding opportunities please contact the team.
We know that the government will be providing updates daily, however we thought it would be useful to include a simple summary of each of the government initiatives, what they can be used for, and where there may be issues.
Facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing cashflow disruptions
How can companies make use of this?: Companies may wish to generate liquidity by making use of a 12-month interest free rate across a broad platform of financial instruments
Restrictions?: Prescriptive measures of size and location prevent many mid-market companies accessing this funding
A corporate finance facility aimed to help larger, financially sound, companies through the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus
How can companies make use of this?: Even companies that have never issued commercial paper are able to participate, and provided that the commercial paper is eligible for the scheme, their bank will assist with issuing commercial paper to the CCFF
Restrictions?: Companies need to be of investment grade already in order to benefit from the initiative – this significantly restricts who is able to benefit
A nationwide initiative whereby HMRC will pay an Employer the majority of wages for their workforce who are temporarily not working due to the coronavirus outbreak
How can companies make use of this?: By making an employee ‘furloughed’ instead of making them redundant, companies can retain talent whilst managing short-term liquidity
Restrictions?: Furloughed employees are still employed, but cannot be doing any work at all, therefore excluding employees who have had their hours reduced.
The government will also be providing support by way of rebates on SSP for staff members who decide to self-isolate
How can companies make use of this?: Instead of the employer covering the cost of SSP, it will now be the role of the government, alleviating short-term liquidity pressures
Restrictions: The mechanism for rebates is yet to be decided, but the government will be working with businesses to work this out over the coming months