Hudson Sandler office

Hudson Sandler update – Our Managing Partner looks back over 2023

If asked which European Stock Exchange led Europe for new issuance in 2023, few would volunteer Bucharest.  But with Romanian renewable energy giant Hidroelectrica’s IPO raising €1.9 billion in August, it powered to the top of the league table followed by Frankfurt and Borsa Italiana.  Consequently, Hudson Sandler was also proud to be at the top of this table as we handled all communications around the IPO, locally as well as globally.  Hidroelectrica’s placement was multiple times oversubscribed, with 80% of shares going to institutional investors. 

In emerging markets we also saw higher levels of primary capital market activity, with transactions including the IPO of Airtel Uganda on the Kampala Exchange with a valuation of $1 billion and our offices in Astana and Tashkent also seeing multiple opportunities in Central Asia.

With all the talk of London losing listings to New York and Euronext, it may also surprise that London led Europe for capital raisings in 2023 at €16.8 billion, twice its nearest rival.  But sadly London does lag in IPO activity, with the number of listed companies in the UK falling by about 40% in 2023 from its high in 2008.  We hope that the LSE’s listing reforms, which we fully endorse, designed to lighten the burden of regulation will finally be activated in the New Year to help address this.

On the M&A front dealmakers faced their most prolonged challenges since the financial crisis, although we saw some recovery in the second half.   Hudson Sandler certainly outperformed in M&A over 2023, working on a number of landmark transactions including advising Capital & Counties Properties on its £5 billion merger with Shaftesbury Capital to create our new client Shaftesbury Capital,  Global Auto Holdings on its £504 million offer for Lookers and 888 Holdings on its $2 billion offer for William Hill.  But global deal making has been at a 10-year low and we do not expect to see a big bounce in activity in H1 2024, with higher interest rates in particular constraining private equity players.

Our Sustainability & ESG offer also had a busy year, very much the golden thread that runs through all our financial and corporate communications campaigns.  Over 2023 we did see a well reported anti-ESG movement gather pace, possibly as stock market environments were challenging with more demand for quantitative data between sustainability initiatives and financial returns.  At Hudson Sandler we have long believed that being a good corporate citizen is good for business as well as the planet and communities.  We now advise most of our clients on their sustainability and ESG strategies, including launching the sustainability strategy of a FTSE 100 company during 2023.

Our Africa practice continues to move strongly forward, with colleagues now based in our local offices in Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo and shortly in Cape Town.  Whenever I visit, I am energised by the scale of the opportunities to build great businesses that are also critical to raising living standards whilst helping the world address climate change.  Africa has more opportunities in renewables and carbon capture than any other continent, with much of our work across the Continent in the field of sustainability consulting.  Our African clients span fintech, telecoms, energy, financial services, resources and food production as well many leading NGOs, all with a clarity of corporate purpose that is still often less pronounced in more developed markets. 

So we end a year very much of two halves.  The first dominated by economic and market headwinds.  The second witnessing a recovery in capital market activity and a greater appetite to engage. Leaders perhaps feel they have navigated the challenges of the last 18 months, and now look how to prioritise re-enforcing their competitive advantages and staying relevant over the years to come. And this is where we provide added value.

Andrew Hayes
Managing Partner

13 December 2023