Speaking at the Entrepreneurs’ Summit, co-hosted by Real Business and the CBI, and in association with Bank of Scotland Corporate, private equity pioneer Cohen predicted that we are only one-third of the way into the global financial crisis that has squeezed the life out of the world money markets and led to a sharply tighter credit market for business and consumers.
As reported in today’s Telegraph, Sir Ronald advised UK entrepreneurial businesses: "you’ve got to make sure you’ve got enough runway ahead of you so that you can take off." This involves having long-term finance in place, deferring capital expenditure and cutting costs.
Cohen said it would be "easy for Britain to slide back" to the anti-entrepreneurial culture that existed when he started Apax in 1972. "The situation for entrepreneurs is fragile," he said.
Opportunities do exist, he said: competitors may get into trouble and become acquisition opportunities; new sources of capital (for example, sovereign wealth funds via private equity firms) will become available; and high-quality potential recruits will come onto the market as the City makes redundancies.