Navigating the uncertainty of Liz Truss’s tenure as prime minister was a “challenge” for former Conservative Party treasurer Malik Karim, who now welcomes the stability ushered in by the government’s new top team in the wake of the Autumn Statement.
Karim, a veteran City dealmaker with Fenchurch Advisory partners, which has worked on some of the biggest deals in asset management and insurance in recent years, served as the party’s treasurer for just over a year before stepping down earlier this month.
“It was challenging. You’ve had three prime ministers this year and four chancellors,” Karim said when asked to reflect on his time as an insider during a tumultuous time in UK politics in a Barron’s Live discussion with Financial News on 17 November. “We’ve had an intervention from the Bank of England in the capital markets. These are things that are not what the UK is known for.”
“I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t a challenge,” added Karim, who remains an adviser on fundraising under new party chairman Nadhim Zahawi. “But I think most importantly we are now stable as a party and as a government. I think our prime minister has developed a cabinet of unity. Most critically we have a credible economic plan underpinned by stability, growth and a desire to protect public services.”
The Autumn Statement from chancellor Jeremy Hunt on 17 November ushered in a number of tax hits on higher earners, including reductions in dividend and capital gains allowances alongside a drop in the 45p income tax threshold.
But Karim applauded the stability offered by the new direction in economic policy.
“I don’t think it’s a personal attack on business or banking,” he said. “The context is a whole bunch of international issues which have created inflation in the UK.
“We’ve been well received by the capital markets and yields are not as high as [they] were a few weeks ago. The key point here is a map of monetary and fiscal policy working in the same direction.”
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While Fenchurch has worked on some major City deals in recent years — including Legal & General’s £6bn retail investment book sale to Fidelity International, Investec’s £1.9bn demerger of Ninety One Asset Management, Jupiter’s merger with Merian, and Abrdn’s sale of investment platform Parmenion — the boutique has often stayed out of the headlines.
But Karim’s political connections were thrust into the spotlight by the likes of the Daily Mail and the Guardian when Fenchurch picked up a mandate on Bain’s attempted takeover of insurance giant LV= last year — a deal that was seen as enabling US raiders to buy up UK Plc and cut jobs.
Karim says he does not regret the deal.
“I don’t really wish to comment on any particular client’s transaction, but LV= you’re right was a public situation where we did get a lot of attention. We’ve been working with LV for many years. The board hired us to support them in the strategic review. We ran a process which ended up with a transaction with Bain that was endorsed by the board.
“Ultimately we couldn’t get it over the line, but 69% voted in favour so it wasn’t exactly a disaster. The key point is that members had a vote, and voted, and we are very pleased to have been involved and done our best for our client.”
Fenchurch is currently looking to expand in the US after opening a New York office led by former Moelis & Co dealmaker John A Sipp.
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