Owners dash for cash

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The Independent Online
Many owner-managers who have survived the recession are selling up in the economic recovery, according to Grant Thornton, the accountancy firm that specialises in advising this sector, writes Roger Trapp.

The main reason for this "dash for cash" is the desire for greater security, both personal and in the business, according to Andrew Godfrey, the firm's head of growth and development services. "I believe many of the owner-managers who have chosen to cashin their chips are simply tired after the recession. But the burden of complex tax and other business legislation is also a significant factor," he said.

There were three main areas of concern identified in research carried out on behalf of Grant Thornton by London University's Imperial College.

q Control: how to retain it while using external capital or transferring shares to outsiders. Worrying about the effects of bringing in new shareholders is most likely to keep owner-managers awake at night.

q Wealth: how to protect or realise it. Thirty-six per cent of the nearly 300 heads of businesses with turnover of between £1m and £50m admitted to nightmares about having their wealth locked up in the business.

q Growth: financing it, managing it and dealing with its consequences. Many are anxious about expansion, and how to motivate staff without losing control.

Pointing out that these businesses are increasingly seen as the creators of employment and wealth, Mr Godfrey added that it was important for advisers to recognise the special needs of the people running them.