Interview with Lee Manning - Resolve Group UK

Interview with Lee Manning

Resolve Group UK

Interview with Lee Manning

What do you consider to be the highlights of your career to date?

For me the highlights of undertaking a restructuring advisory role are always about producing constructive results from difficult circumstances, whatever the scale of the organisation.

Saving jobs, businesses and value for creditors, and keeping organisations out of insolvency, are all rewarding and have a genuine impact on people’s lives. I very much enjoy the role of being a trusted advisor to management and stakeholders of distressed businesses. In that sense, almost every assignment I have worked on has delivered added value.

Even in a formal insolvency I pride myself on improving the outcome for creditors. For example when appointed by Blockbuster c.260 stores were sold as going concerns whilst key creditor recoveries were materially enhanced. In the case of Land of Leather 19,000 open orders for sofas were fulfilled by us as administrators and £4.5m extra realisations were generated in so doing.

In my experience an insolvency solution typically reduces the considerable stress faced by directors and shareholders, as it usually provides a solution to a serious problem that they cannot address without professional help and which may have been a heavy burden on them for a long time. Whilst many Directors regret getting into the situation that resulted in the insolvency,  I have never encountered anyone who regretted the insolvency process itself, as it proved to be the right thing to do and ultimately provided relief from the uncertainty and frequently a new opportunity. Directors and owners genuinely do move on post insolvency and there is real value in the process itself.

I have enjoyed acting as an advisor to numerous professional football clubs and their key stakeholders since rescuing Millwall Football Club from administration as a going concern and preserving its public company status, over twenty years ago. I continue to be actively involved in the industry as a trustee of the Fulham Football Club Foundation (the club’s community based charity) which is a rewarding role for me.

Being appointed President of R3 in 2012 was a definite highlight and I have immense respect for the work it does for the insolvency profession. R3 is truly a shining example of a trade body that genuinely acts in the real interests of its members. So many people involved in R3 give up a lot of personal time to help the profession and it was an honour and a pleasure working with them and the dedicated full time employees at R3.

I still greatly enjoy facilitating at Deloitte’s EMEA Training Centre outside Brussels, teaching soft skills to enable managers and senior managers to develop themselves, work colleagues as professionals, and build client relationships. I provide real life experience based guidance on life skills, how to build effective teams and deal with difficult people which is both challenging and rewarding.

Recently I have completed my training as an accredited mediator to act as an independent solutions facilitator between parties undergoing commercial dispute litigation, which is both interesting and provides the opportunity to use my communication skills and negotiation experience in a different manner.

What do you find least rewarding?

I dislike serial impropriety, stakeholders who lack integrity and have no real interest in the reputation of their business, and those who use insolvency as a means to an end and a route to continue to act in the manner they did with no regard for their existing or future creditors. Working with individuals who do not have the best interests of their organisation and shareholders at heart is both demotivating and demoralising.

Why did you choose to join ReSolve?

ReSolve offers the opportunity to use the breadth of my commercial and technical experience in both insolvency and distressed investment scenarios. It also allows me to get involved in the organisation itself to help define its growth strategy and governance by providing an independent perspective, and to draw on my experience from the firms I have worked for previously over the past 35 years.

My current role at ReSolve enables me to combine my experience of insolvency and restructuring whilst expanding upon my work as a subject matter expert witness/advisor, and extending my experience in mediation of forensic/contentious insolvency.

The opportunity to work with ReSolve Capital Partners and use my commercial experience to help guide and inform our private equity investment decisions by casting a critical eye on both the existing and future portfolio was also a key part of my decision to join ReSolve.

What are your predictions for the future of insolvency?

As a result of the proposed insolvency reforms I am concerned that, given the Government’s determination to promote a debtor driven restructuring environment, many inefficient businesses are likely to survive longer than they should (without the impetus of creditor driven solutions) and as a result creditors could lose more than they should if the new regime leaves inexperienced or unscrupulous directors in control of insolvent companies under professionally ‘unsupervised’ moratoriums.

The idea of a 28 day debtor led moratorium creates an increasingly debtor-friendly regime, and could encourage an extension of unviable and speculative trading, causing further losses to creditors.

Whilst the idea of debtor-in-possession restructuring is increasingly prevalent,  I believe this can only work if there is an obligation to enable licensed professionals to work alongside the management of insolvent businesses.

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