SEIZING THE MOMENT

For a man who describes himself as “a natural bear”, Jon Moulton is remarkably bullish about his firm's prospects for the coming months – despite the recent volatility in global debt and equity markets.

Although he is unwilling to call the top of the cycle – “it's impossible to say how deep the correction will be,” he demurs – the apparent deterioration in credit quality is clearly no bad thing for Alchemy. Last year the firm hired Ian Cash from Mizuho to run a special situations fund, which is starting to come into his own. At the time of our conversation, Cash's team had completed five deals, most of which had happened in the preceding weeks. As a result of the credit crunch, there are finally some bargains to be had in the debt market.

But Moulton says the rest of the business is also flourishing. “Our deal flow is currently very good,” he says. This is particularly true in the public-to-private space, he says. In the past, Alchemy has had to seek out this kind of deal, but according to Moulton, “over the last three to four weeks, they've been approaching us.” This is due to a combination of factors, he suggests: weaker equity markets, governance concerns and also Alchemy's strong track record in the area – since inception, one in four of their deals have been of this type.

His good mood is partly explained by the fact that he has spent the afternoon completing the firm's latest valuation exercise, which revealed good news across the board. “There's probably one in 30 that I'm worried about – it's maybe not the best it's ever been, but it's a lot better than it was five years ago.”