BusinessBusiness RecoveryPersonality of the year: Tony Lomas

Personality of the year: Tony Lomas

PwC's chairman of business recovery wins out for his work on the Lehman Brothers administration

Accountancy Age will never forget the hastily arranged press conference last
September when the national media descended on Canary Wharf as Lehman Brothers
imploded.

As the administrators filed into the auditorium you wouldn’t have known
they’d had little more than a few hours’ sleep in the previous couple of days.

But the ability to deliver a composed, coherent presentation while the
fallout which comes from the death of a banking giant is a constant feature of
your day is just one of the reasons why PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and
Lehmans administrator Tony Lomas has scooped our Personality of the Year Award.

Insolvency practitioners are seen by some as the grim reapers of the
accountancy world rather than white knights and so are reluctant to accept
plaudits for their work.

Being the character that he is, Lomas would be eager to point out that this
was a team effort ­ but the simple fact is that he is universally credited as
the PwC point man on the huge job.

He also had no qualms in flagging up flaws in the insolvency framework, not
least of which the situation which saw Lehmans European arm transactions left in
limbo.

On the other side of the pond, the US authorities moved to ring-fence Lehman
Brothers International, allowing the parent company to complete its outstanding
trades, but no such move was taken by the tripartite authorities in the UK.

With this in mind, Lomas also called for US “anti-alienation” provisions,
which would have provided administrators some breathing space as certain assets
are
ring-fenced from creditors.

It’s all well and good making calls for things to change, but with Lomas you
get the distinct impression that when he talks, the government tends to listen.

Lomas is now chairman of PwC’s UK Business Recovery Services and is its most
senior client service partner.

According to his staff he is “straightforward, up-front and focused, with no
hidden agenda”.

One look at his track record reflects his pedigree, which includes his
extensive experience of carrying out strategic and financial business reviews,
providing other advisory services and taking insolvency appointments covering a
wide variety of industries, multi-creditor situations and international business
settings.

He has worked on assignments with substantial operations in the Americas,
Western, Central and Eastern Europe and South East Asia.

Recognised as one of the decade’s most demanding and complex appointments,
Lomas continues to lead the administration of Enron’s European operations.
Current challenges include the management and realisation of value from a
variety of gas supply, transportation and processing contracts and facilities
and the development of distribution plans for the different insolvent estates.
He also handled the administration of the former car-making powerhouse MG Rover.

But with the Lehmans’ job set to stretch out well into the next decade, Lomas
will probably be too busy to follow his beloved Tottenham Hotspur. Adding weight
to the old adage, Accountancy Age believes, that nobody’s perfect ­ not even
Personality of the Year Award winners.

SAYING IT AS IT IS

Insolvencies can be fiendishly complex to explain at the best of times,
even when “garden variety” administrations are involved, but Lomas has made it
his trademark to set out exactly how the land lies in a way that has made it
possible for jittery investors, the profession and the man in the street to
digest.

In the past year Lomas has never been afraid of the tough questions, even
admitting the Lehmans job was behind schedule at one stage when others may have
tried to put a more positive spin on the situation.

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