Private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. has acquired specialist lender Bluestone Mortgages Asia Pacific (Aus and NZ).
The transaction, which was announced today (27 February), will divest the parent company, Bluestone Group UK, of its Asia Pacific business in its entirety.
The company currently has over $8 billion in loans under management, has written more than $1.3 billion in mortgages since 2013 and employs 150 staff across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.
With the acquisition, the company will move into a new office space in Clarence Street, Sydney, to accommodate the current team and future staff.
However, the CEO of Bluestone Mortgages’ Asia Pacific business told The Adviser that the company does not expect that it will need to make any significant hires nor would there be any changes in management in the near term.
While the day-to-day operational activity will remain unchanged (with current management and staff running the business), Mr Campbell Symth said that the transaction will enable the company to “actively evolve its product portfolio and service offering”, help it “focus on actualising a number of imminent expansion options that meet the demands of emerging sectors”, and place it in “an ideal position to aggressively capitalise on upcoming opportunities”.
Mr Smyth said that these could include targeting near-prime borrowers and small-ticket commercial offerings as well as other asset classes.
The CEO of Bluestone’s Asia Pacific business said: “This is a great moment for the business and the whole team is embracing the investment by Cerberus.
“The net effect of this growth model will be more options for brokers and borrowers alike.”
Speaking to The Adviser, Mr Smyth elaborated: “It’s business as usual, but with the release of new products and further investment in our processes and systems and people, our expectation is that we will not only be able to offer brokers more products but also be able to continually improve in terms of service. That’s service in terms of commitment of taking a deal and working it out if it can be done, and — if it can be done — then getting it done as efficiently as possible. That’s how we focus on service internally.
“At the end of the day, what we want to deliver the brokers and customers is the outcome that they are looking for in the best possible manner and time frame.”
Mr Smyth added: “We always rank very well in terms of service and that is something that we pride ourselves on; however, it’s an area which I think you can continually improve. For us, that is a big part of what we do.”
Mr Symth concluded: “Combined with a new partner and a significant balance sheet, this is our opportunity to take the business to the next level.
“Overall, the transaction is a win for all involved. We have a fantastic team who consistently work incredibly hard to realise the company’s goals.”
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, which are expected to be finalised in March.
US firms look to Australian lenders
The Cerberus acquisition marks the latest in a series of American firms looking to take up a piece of the growing popularity of Australia non-bank lenders.
In August last year, Pepper accepted a takeover offer from California-based investment manager KKR. The non-bank was sold for approximately $675 million.
In December 2017, New York-based global asset management firm Blackstone acquired 80 per cent of La Trobe Financial for an undisclosed sum. The American behemoth manages $521 billion in assets and has a market cap of $38 billion.