Should I go ahead with selling my company during post Brexit uncertainty??

I was asked this question by a business owner very recently.   We had been discussing his exit options for some months, and not unreasonably he is trying now to work out the effects of a post Brexit world on his decision making, in particular how it should affect timing.

BrexitTiming is the key given that successful company sales are often significantly about getting the timing right; timing re your business, your sector, and of course one cannot ignore the overall economic outlook.

My considered opinion is that I think it is too early to tell.

But there are, as yet anecdotally, some positive signs. We have 3 sales on the go at the moment at Heads of Terms or legal stages, all with foreign buyers, all are unaffected.  Also we have another just begun where the directions asked themselves the same question – and decided to proceed, on the basis that if buyers are all running scared we’ll find out quite early on and they can pause the process.  

At a more general level if the purchase is strategic I think folk will push on, however there must be some buyers out there who will wait to see what happens. 

What about foreign buyers wanting an EU base – how will they behave? For some businesses that will clearly have an effect.   Again it will depend on the precise business being sold and the buyers specific motivation.  

Of course there is potentially a plus from exchange rates depending on how that pans out. We have clients which will do well from that, and those that are already hurting.

In short nobody knows – only way to be sure is to try it.

Finally, just as with the political campaign, we're seeing some daft statements associated with the post Brexit world.   I received a marketing flyer re a company sale today from another adviser which cheerfully concluded that the business was "Wholly UK focused, so not affected by Brexit".   Presumably any downturn in the UK economy due to Brexit would not affect this business despite being wholly UK focussed?!  Dubious logic that even Boris would have been proud of. 


Affluence aint what it used to be.......

Last year, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced that HMRC would create a new ‘Affluent Unit’, targeting those with a net worth of at least £2.5 million.  Apparently this is to use ‘new and innovative risk assessment techniques to identify areas where wealthy individuals are avoiding or evading taxes and duties’.   I wonder what "new and innovative" means in this context - presumbaly some sort of patterns spotting software of the sort used by the banks to detect fraud?
 
One year on, at the 2012 conference Mr Alexander revealed that the remit of the Unit would be extended to cover anyone with net worth of £1 million or more. This will increase its audience by two thirds to 500,000. To help cope with the greater number, ‘an extra 100 inspectors and specialists will be recruited’.   I guess this means that anyone who's successfully sold a business and owns a house will be on the hit list.   Moral of the tale must be that its more important than ever to get some good tax advice and well ahead of any transaction.   

So the good news is that the government is - as if by magic - making it easier to be affluent.   If this is a geometric progression, then I reckon that by next year you'd only need £400,000 net worth to be affluent and by 2018 we'll ALL be affluent.   Truly we are all in this together.