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Entrepreneurs Panel

Brian Hay
Michael Oliver
Laura Tenison
Jennie Johnson
Julie Meyer
Jeremy Roberts
Debbie Pierce
Steve Purdham
Charlie Mullins
Tony Caldeira
Richard O'Sullivan
David Pollock

EN North West Deals of the Year Awards 2008 - the winners in full

The Ainscough Brothers - Martin, James and Brendan - took the award for "Best Deal Over £100 million" at the EN North West Deals of the Year Awards 2008. The award was given for their sale last autumn of their crane hire business for £255 million.  

In the professional categories, meanwhile, Tony Dean of Royal Bank of Scotland was named Dealmaker of the Year and Banker of the Year in recognition of his work on deals including the acquisition of BWA Water Additives, the MBO of Warwick International, the MBO of Character World and the secondary buyout of PSCA International.

The other winners were:

Technology Deal of the Year: Richard Beaton and his backers Inflexion and YFM for their sale of housebuilding software firm Tekton to Sage.

Best Deal Under £20 million: Retail entrepreneur Elaine McPherson for the acquisition of high street clothing discounter Ethel Austin.

Best Deal £20-100 million: "Barefoot Entrepreneur" Dawn Gibbins for the sale of her family flooring business Flowcrete to RPM International.

Corporate Financier of the Year: Andrew Westbrook, Deloitte.

Lawyer of the Year: Jonathan Watkins, DLA Piper.

Venture Capitalist of the Year: Andy Lees, Barclays Ventures.

The 800-or-so guests at the MEN Arena were also treated to a sobering economic assessment by guest speaker Jon Moulton, founder of the private equity firm Alchemy Partners. He warned of continuing high bank lending rates and rising inflation as a result of the Government's decision to print money in a bid to spend its way out of recession - and the consequent devaluing of the pound.

Companies should be in "survival" rather than "prosperity" mode for the coming year, he continued. The recession would be worse than anything since the Second World War, he said.

Not everyone was feeling the crunch, however: a charity auction on the night raised more than £20,000 for Versus Cancer - with one lot, a Fender bass guitar signed by the cream of the Manchester music scene, making £11,000.

Later in the evening guests were entertained by Grumpy Old Man and former Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman, comedian Neil Fitzmaurice (Phoenix Nights' Ray Von) and Oasis tribute act Definitely Mightbe.

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Five Minutes With

David Hughes sums up his entrepreneurial career to date thus: four spectacular successes and two failures. He founded the sports retailer Allsports and achieved turnover of £180 million before a vicious price war meant decline, administration in 2005 and a sell-off to rival JD Sports.

It took Richard Shonn, managing director of 151 Products, three years to find a warehouse big enough for his requirements.