Paul Mann

Corporate Partner - Head of UK Private Equity, Squire Patton Boggs

Paul has a vast network across the business leader community in Yorkshire and is a popular character, so it came as no surprise when he was announced as Dealmaker of the Year at Insider's Yorkshire Dealmaker Awards earlier this month.

June 28, 2021
Jun 28, 2021
CFO Interviews

Comments from the judges included:

“The very best M&A lawyers contribute to relationships and Paul does that now. He has the maturity to carry relationships from one transaction to another. One of the reasons is because people respect and trust him and value his involvement.”

Paul is a close contact of our business and a very valuable connection. We have enjoyed sharing our network with each other and now look forward to sharing his thoughts and experience with our network here.

'Yorkshire Dealmaker of the Year' is a huge accolade and has an illustrious list of past winners. Well done on joining that group! What were the most important factors in your success?

The support of a fantastic team, which was also recognised at Insider’s Yorkshire Dealmakers Awards as Corporate Team of the Year (as were our Manchester team in the North West Awards!). Whilst it is fair to say that we have experienced a purple patch over the past 18 months, our achievements are the result of the sustained efforts of many people and over a prolonged period of time.  

Our Corporate team is very well-supported by lawyers across a range of practices, whether banking, employment, real estate or pensions, our specialist teams all come together to support clients on every aspect of a deal.  

It would be remiss of me not to mention the support from the gang at home, my wife and two young children are also a great source of support, putting up with my hours as well as being great at bringing me back to reality after a busy day!

The only disappointment was missing what would have been a lively Thursday evening/Friday morning.  That said we have a night out in the bank and the Friday was a lot more productive than it would ordinarily have been.

The private equity deals market has been really busy over the past few months, why has this been the case and (more importantly!) how will it look for the next 12 months?

The appetite for deals is very healthy.  Hard lockdown a year ago put the brakes on activity, but once the rules relaxed we quickly saw a resurgence of activity as opportunities opened up.  The threat of a capital gains tax increase in March conspired to create a perfect storm of deal activity and whilst this didn’t come to fruition in the Budget, record levels of dry powder continue to fuel private equity activity. People are now looking again at the likelihood of a capital gains tax increase and this is reflected in the activity we are starting to see, and I suspect we will also see similar trends into the Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022 Budgets.

Despite the political uncertainty and challenges of COVID-19, businesses need to continue to adapt and evolve – whether through M&A, strategic joint ventures, partnerships or seeking new investment –corporate activity will continue to be diverse and, for the foreseeable future, active although having been through the last year or so I should be careful in making predictions!

How has lockdown working affected the working life of a dealmaker and what lessons has it given for the future?

Lockdown has been difficult for all of us.  In the relationship-driven corporate arena, deals tend to come together and be struck in person so initially at the start of the pandemic, where there was little contact and a lot of uncertainty, activity stopped pretty quickly.  However, the business community is resilient and showed real determination to work round the challenges. The adage ‘where there is a will, there’s a way,’ is certainly borne out, when you look at the number of deals that have been done.  I think we can look to the future with optimism, based on the achievements of the last year.

From a Yorkshire perspective, I am a Bradford lad and I have worked in the region my whole career. The market supports each other very well, whether that be a client, contact or a competitor and that has never been more apparent than in recent times.  It is a great market to be a part of.

18 years and counting for your professional career and all at SPB. What have been the biggest differences / evolutions in advising on deal activity over that time?

The most significant change has been in the use of technology.  With a much wider range of technology we have become more sophisticated in how we can interact with clients and contacts – with website analysis, deals tracking and CRM systems through to webinars and social media interactions.  That said, personal relationship building with clients is still vital.  We are a relationship-driven business.  We need excellent credentials, but ‘people buy people’ and often it is a relationship with a decision-maker that gets us through the door.

What would be your advice to anyone starting their career in legal or finance and considering specialising in corporate transactions?

This is a fantastic career for those with a keen interest in business.  Strong commercial awareness and an entrepreneurial mindset are important in identifying opportunities to grow and develop businesses, while problem-solving abilities are critical in getting deals over the line. It isn’t the lightest career choice on hours though…

What are the qualities that you see as being the  most important for a PE sector CFO?

The core skill set of providing the information required by the PE House (and the Bank) in a timely and appropriate manner still remains a key element but the role of a PE sector CFO, in my experience, has continued to evolve and is now a more all-encompassing position, with a greater focus on contributing to strategy and the creation of business value.  This means CFOs need to be innovators, forward-looking with an appetite to drive technological change.

What does your normal day / week look like?

There is a question!  In current lockdown status...

My eldest is usually wired and wakes me up pre 6am so an early morning check of emails and replies before some children time pre school and nursery.

Morning is usually a mixture of emails, calls, Teams (I miss the old fashioned way) and the afternoon generally continues in the same vein. I have been introduced to Joe Wicks during lockdown so try and find time for that most days and invariably now manage to eat with the family and do one bed time out of the two.

Generally, back to the desk post 8pm to tidy up for the day and often use the quiet time for drafting/a little more structured thought when the phone stops ringing. Try to be asleep by 11am but having watched Rahm win the US Open on Sunday night/Monday morning, there are exceptions!


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