Equipment finance lender Axsesstoday, which had been placed into administration, has been bought by an affiliate of private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP and will continue to operate under the new ownership.
Promontoria Holding 304 BV, an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management LP, has bought equipment finance lender Axsesstoday for the sum of $260 million.
The equipment finance solutions provider for the transport, hospitality and other industries was placed into voluntary administration earlier this year after senior lenders said they were unable to continue supporting the business with ongoing waivers of breaches of loan terms. However, it remained operational throughout.
Following “an intense sale campaign” by the administrators [Deloitte] and their advisers, Moelis Australia Advisors, the business and assets of several subsidiaries of Axsesstoday Ltd – Axsesstoday Operations Pty Ltd (Operations); A.C.N. 603 303 126 Pty Ltd (ACN603); and Axsesstoday Retail Pty Ltd – have now been acquired by the Cerberus affiliate.
The $259.7 million deal has reportedly allowed for all secured lenders to be repaid in full and enables the lender to exit from voluntary administration.
It has also resulted in over $18 million being made available towards the payment to unsecured creditors.
Under the new ownership, the business will continue to run as an equipment finance solutions in Australia and will look to “strengthen its business and identify strategic opportunities to expand their platform for the benefit of its customers in Australia”.
All current employees are being offered ongoing employment.
Speaking of the acquisition, Lee Millstein, President of Cerberus Global Investments, commented: “We are pleased to have closed the transaction and begin working alongside the talented Axsesstoday team.
“We look forward to supporting the company as it grows its capabilities and continues to deliver tailored financing solutions to meet the needs of Australian businesses.”
Axsesstoday’s chief operating officer, Konrad Pels, welcomed the sale, adding: “This is an exciting milestone for all of us at Axsesstoday. With Cerberus’ support, we will have access to resources and expertise to strengthen our robust platform, elevate our portfolio of financing solutions and capitalise on growth opportunities.
“The acquisition means we have been able to save almost 50 jobs in our Australian office and we now look forward to beginning this new chapter for Axsesstoday and continuing to be a trusted partner to businesses across Australia.
“Axsesstoday is in a prime position to continue to offer a compelling finance solution to SME customers across Australia,” he added.
Joint administrator Vaughan Strawbridge from Deloitte Restructuring Services also commented on the transaction, stating: “This is an outstanding result and could not have been achieved without the understanding and continued support of employees, funders, the broker network and customers.
“I am particularly pleased for the employees, whose jobs have been preserved.”
AXL to be sold separately
Under the terms of the arrangement, which was approved by creditors on 30 August 2019 and completed on 20 September, the ASX-listed company Axsesstoday Ltd (AXL) will be sold separately.
It is now a listed shell company following completion of the transaction and will remain under the control of the administrators until the sale of AXL is completed.
Proceeds from this sale, together with any other proceeds realised by the administrators, will be applied towards the payment to unsecured creditors.
An application has now been lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to change the name of the shell company Axsesstoday Ltd (AXL) to ACN 603 323 182 Ltd, given that Promontoria is now the owner of the assets of the group, including the interest in the name.
Axsesstoday will therefore now operate as a privately held company, joining Cerberus’ global portfolio of companies.
US firms look to Australian lenders
The Promontoria 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.
Its sister company, Cerberus, acquired specialist lender Bluestone Mortgages Asia Pacific (Aus and NZ) in February 2018 in a deal that divested the parent company, Bluestone Group UK, of its Asia Pacific business in its entirety.
Meanwhile, in August last year, Pepper accepted a takeover offer from California-based investment manager KKR. The non-bank was sold for approximately $675 million.
Further back, 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.