21.01.21

2020: year in review

With Australia Day rapidly approaching and most of the country either back at work or in the process of returning after the festive break, it is worth reflecting on all that has happened during 2020. 

Tom Matthews

2020 was a very challenging year for many, particularly given the uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. To appreciate just how difficult it has been, it is worth reminding ourselves of some of the key events in Australia over the course of last year.

A reminder of some of the key events in 2020

  • In January we had severe bushfires, hail storms and flooding.
  • In February, General Motors announced it was pulling its Holden brand from Australia
  • In March, Australia recorded its first death from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • In April, Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration
  • In June, Australia experienced a large-scale cyber-attack against the Australian Government
  • In July, the border between NSW and Victoria was closed for the first time since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, after an increase in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne
  • In August, due to escalating numbers of infection rates, especially in the workplace, Victoria declared a state of disaster and stage four restrictions were put in place
  • In September, the Australian economy went into recession for the first time in nearly thirty years, as the country’s GDP fell 7% in the June quarter
  • In November, the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed its official cash rate to a historic low 0.1%, in an attempt to boost spending in the economy and address the high rate of unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • In December, the 2020 Sydney to Hobart yacht race was cancelled for the first time in its history due to an outbreak of coronavirus in Sydney and all other states and territories closed their borders to all residents of greater Sydney

Our experience at Pemba

In many ways COVID-19 provided the ideal test for Pemba and our ‘defensive growth’ focused strategy. Our Pemba partner companies displayed significant resilience during these challenging times.

In fact, Pemba Fund I is ranked among the top performing funds globally in the Cambridge Associates benchmark. This incredible performance is due to the heroic efforts of our partner company founders, management teams and staff that work at these great organisations.

I want to say a big thank you to all of our partner company founders and management teams for their huge efforts and contributions in helping us navigate these very difficult times.  I also want to say a huge thank you to our amazing team at Pemba. Each of you has really stepped up over the course of the last year and delivered.

  • Exits

Given the strong performance of the Pemba partner companies and the resilience of the sectors in which they operate, it is no surprise that there has been significant demand from others to invest into them. We are in the process of exiting a number of our Fund I partner companies, which will be announced later in the year when the transactions complete.

  • New investments

In parallel to the exits, the team at Pemba have kept the focus on deploying capital in high quality opportunities that fit within our defensive growth sectors and meet our key investment criteria.

We are delighted to sign two new platform investments that will be the first investments for Pemba Fund II. Again, these will be formally announced later in the year when the transactions complete.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that ONCALL is about to complete its first strategic bolt-on acquisition, which will accelerate the growth of this amazing organisation into the Queensland market and enable it to continue on its mission of improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable in Australia.

Closing remarks

If there is one thing 2020 has taught us, is that challenges and difficulties are guaranteed experiences in life and business. No doubt there will be numerous challenges and uncertainties lying ahead in 2021. However, I am exceptionally positive about the future and feel very privileged to be working alongside such fantastic colleagues, founders and management teams.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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