Recovery period?

The last quarter of the decade now irritatingly known as the noughties saw the UK economy grow by a staggering… wait for it… 0.1 per cent.
 
Throw in the optimism surrounding the recently dormant private equity market (see story) and there’s reason for City lawyers to start talking about their favourite emotion again – cautious optimism.
 
But what of the restructuring teams that have had such a high time of it through the banking crisis and beyond? Well, it turns out that the recovery actually means diddly-squat to most of them.
 
“This lower than expected growth rate will have very little impact on the number of companies which continue to be significantly over-levered,” says co-head of Kirkland & Ellis’ London restructuring practice Kon Asimacopoulos. “We continue to expect the tail on restructuring activity to be long.”
 
And his is by no means a lone voice in the wilderness.
 
“It’s a kind of phoney war at the moment,” argues Dundas & Wilson partner John Verrill. “Though it’s good news for UK plc, it doesn’t mean the effect of the recession is just going to go away.
 
“We haven’t yet seen the carnage that you get on the way out of recession – we’ll see an upsurge in the appointment of administrators.”
 
As Freshfields’ restructuring star of 2009 Chris Howard says, “there’s every prospect of a double dip,” which could mean a redoubling of restructuring mandates winging their way across the City.
 
“We’re still busy,” he adds, “and if that’s an indication then we’re not out of it yet.”
 
Good news for Howard and his mates, bad news for some of his clients. But one man’s lump of coal is another’s diamond ring.

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Also on TheLawyer.com: Linklaters’ NQ retention rate slides to 70 per cent; Olswang and Serle Court advise RBS shareholders on action against the bank; and been wondering what’s going on in the Irish legal market? Find out in our Special Report here and here.