Editor’s letter: The UK voted out, so where are we now?

Andy Thomson
Andy Thomson

There’s something potentially extremely challenging coming down the line, but it’s very slow-moving: indeed, some would say the movement is imperceptible. So what do you do? Some might freeze in fear of that eventuality, others may decide to put their best foot forward and carry on as calmly as possible – what you can’t control, try not to worry about.

If you’ve been in another corner of the universe for a while, the first paragraph may not make much sense. But everyone else will recognise it as referring to the strange and unprecedented situation that has arisen in the UK since the EU referendum vote on June 23 went the way of the “leavers” – with the “outcome” still largely unknowable until a protracted divorce between the UK and the rest of Europe is eventually formalised.

In the months that followed we have been tracking market responses to the vote, and many of our findings can be perused in this month’s issue.

In what might be described as reactions to the vote in raw form, we called up many of the leading names in real estate debt and asked them what they planned to do next. We also gathered together four experts shortly after the vote for a roundtable discussion which provided interesting insights on how things may pan out from here on.

What was rare was any sort of knee-jerk reaction: indeed, some say they welcome the ‘extended pause’ that may now be necessary to reflect and avoid doing anything too hasty (though there is a bold counter-argument that perhaps now is a time to be doing as many new deals as possible as others retreat to the side-lines).

A good example of pragmatism in the face of uncertainty comes from LBBW, the German bank which is the subject of this month’s cover interview. As the EU vote approached, it teamed with ING Real Estate Finance to complete the £400 million Salesforce Tower refinancing in London. As a reminder that solid fundamentals should always take priority over political cross-winds, the bank’s Thorsten Schönenberger reminded us that it was “still the same building in the same location”, regardless of whatever else was going on.

This issue also includes our annual special report on debt advisers. This too comes with a Brexit flavour, as the leading players decide whether their strategies are still as compelling and relevant as they were previously. Many feel the UK and continental Europe still offer enormous opportunity as the influence of advisers continues to spread.