The Due Diligence newsletter has become the must-read daily briefing for anyone involved in corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions, and private equity. The newsletter is led by the FT's corporate finance and deals editors Arash Massoudi and James Fontanella-Khan.
We sat down with Arash to discuss how the newsletter has evolved and what subscribers can expect in corporate finance over the year ahead.
Tell us a bit about how Due Diligence has changed since it initially launched.
Arash Massoudi: Due Diligence is now approaching its fifth year in existence. Since launching the newsletter, it's evolved to somewhat mirror the way deal making in corporate finance has changed.
Originally, a lot of the transactions and themes were about tax inversions and Chinese outbound M&A and the disappearance of Chinese outbound M&A, compared to now it’s more about the rise of private equity and the new conglomerates in the private equity industry.
Of course, we now have a broader suite of commercial events and public presence that we didn't have previously. We have Due Diligence: Dialogue events, a monthly discussion series that’s free to all premium newsletter subscribers. From conferences and one to one interviews we have all these different events with the biggest names in corporate finance and deal making. We even have a video channel now too.
How has Due Diligence grown since its launch and what traits would you specifically say you would need to cover Due Diligence news stories?
AM: Due Diligence is written by a group of FT journalists around the world whose work touches corporate finance. At its core, we have the ability to draw upon the entire FT global network to bring subscribers first-hand views, summaries and insights layered in our knowledge of M&A and corporate finance.
As the growth of Due Diligence has been so successful, it has allowed for the FT newsroom to expand too. For example, we now have Venture capital reporter Miles Kruppa operating from the US west coast bringing subscribers insights on Silicon Valley and big money in tech. We also have private equity expertise from Antoine Gara, the FT’s US private & institutional capital reporter, who previously worked as Forbes finance editor.
So we’ve been able to capitalise on Due Diligence’s success and sequentially, as Due Diligence becomes better, so does the FT as a whole.
Can you tell us a bit about how you work more widely with the rest of the editorial team?
AM: At the FT, the priority is to always produce the best possible story. On a daily basis, we come together and discuss where the best insights are for finance and how we can create something unique and valuable not found elsewhere. That’s what goes into the Due Diligence newsletter that lands in subscriber’s inboxes at 5am (UK time).
It’s really about the synthesis of 600 journalists who we work closely with and our assessment of the most valuable information to tell our subscribers.
We want to ensure that we can clearly explain difficult, technical information to our audience and broaden their horizons. We understand that the world is a complex place and everyone is bombarded with information — our subscribers get the best information from reading the FT and from within the FT you get the best financial information from Due Diligence.
What would you say our readers should look out for in Due Diligence this year?
AM: This year will be interesting in a sense that we’re now running up against a central bank cycle, which is underwritten by the entire financial boom and deal making over the past decade — however this cycle appears to be coming to an end.
From a business strategy standpoint, this could be an incredibly difficult year for many companies.
With the onset of inflation, supply chain issues and cash-rich corporations, you also have workers that continue to be taken advantage of. We’re now seeing a confluence of factors coming together.
At the same time, we have private equity with more and more money to dispose of in an effort to bid up assets.
It’s going to be a complicated and bumpy year with a lot of changes. More and more it’s pertinent to understand what’s happening in real time and that is why readers subscribe to Due Diligence.
You’ve recently launched a new speaker series called Due Diligence: Dialogues. What are the events about and what attendees can expect?
AM: Something we learned during the pandemic is our global audience is interested in high quality content and meeting individuals and experts in shorter event time frames and that in a normal context, would otherwise be difficult to hear from.
With our network of journalists and experts we bring an audience together in a very unique way and we’re pushing further forwards with that aspect.
The Due Diligence: Dialogues events take place on a monthly basis and are free for our premium subscribers. The audience can hear from top practitioners in corporate finance.
Just recently, our first interview was with Gregg Lemkau, the former co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs and we discussed his transition from Goldman Sachs to running MSD Partners, an investment firm set up by computing entrepreneur Michael Dell. Listeners at these Due Diligence: Dialogues events can expect more interviews like this in the coming months.
We know that Due Diligence is already a staple for professionals working in corporate finance and private equity - are there other sectors and roles you think can really benefit from Due Diligence coverage?
AM: I hear from a lot of fund managers, lawyers and bankers but also a lot from c-suite level professionals and board members who are often in a narrow silo in terms of topic focus.
When they read Due Diligence, they realise that many other industries are tackling the same issues, but they don’t ever come together to discuss overcoming such challenges. In effect Due Diligence can help them broaden their horizons and look at different ways of problem solving, applicable to different industries and specific categories.
Another sector I hear from a lot is from business school students who are entering the workplace for the first time and want to increase their business acumen in front of their new firm. They find Due Diligence to be an indispensable tool in helping them secure their first job and to really understand key issues. The information in Due Diligence helps them in that water cooler pitch moment in their job interviews.
Are there any other plans to expand Due Diligence further?
AM: Right now, it’s an ever growing suite. We have the Due Diligence Forums centred around a series of intimate and interactive dinners curated by FT editors, featuring world-class speakers. We’re working on a few exciting propositions with the Scoreboard newsletter and working on the confluence of money in sport.
There is so much going on, Due Diligence continues to be really well received by our subscribers so we’re continuing our constant investment and expansion within the FT.
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