Nomura buyouts on hold, says Hands

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The Independent Online
GUY HANDS, the corporate financier who turned Nomura into one of the biggest players in the UK buyout market, says he is not expecting to do any new deals for 12 to 24 months, writes Andrew Garfield.

Mr Hands, who became Britain's biggest landlord when he paid pounds 1.2bn for 4,300 Inntrepreneur pubs last year, said he would be managing the businesses he has already bought and looking abroad. He is particularly interested in Germany, where he expects that the new Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, will be looking to sell public assets to pay for tax cuts.

The problem, says Mr Hands, is that those selling businesses have refused to adjust their expectations downwards in the wake of the stock market collapse. Mr Hands says that prices for companies will need to drop by "30 to 40 per cent" to take into account the new realities of the market place.

"There is a fundamental disconnect. The sellers want July prices and I want to pay next year's prices," he says.

Before the market can pick up, shareholders are going to have to take into account both the credit crunch, which has made it almost impossible to raise finance, and the growing likelihood of a recession hitting both values and earnings.

"That may take 24 months," he says. In the meantime "one sits on one's hands".

Nomura was able to complete the financing of the pounds 700m deal to take the Thorn rental business private last week, but only because the financing was put in place before the August crash.

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