Aldermore, the specialist bank, has announced the acquisition of a 48% minority equity stake in AFS Group Holdings Limited (AFS), one of the largest introducers to asset and commercial finance funders in the UK.
AFS was founded in 2004 and employs approximately 19 people across two offices in Blackburn and York. The company is split into three divisions: Asset Finance Solutions (UK) Ltd, the asset finance broker matching around 60 independent brokers with a large panel of funders (including Aldermore); AFS Compliance Ltd, which provides compliance solutions to appointed representatives within AFS; and Synergy Commercial Finance Limited, a new venture providing brokerage services to commercial finance introducers for non-asset finance products.
In 2016, Asset Finance Solutions (UK) Ltd originated approximately £210 million in lending (up from c.£167 million in 2015), with the group generating net revenues of approximately £1.3 million.
The new partnership, which is subject to regulatory approval, will enable Aldermore to further strengthen its leading position both in the business finance broker markets, including not only asset and invoice finance but also across commercial mortgages and property development, as well as provide further support to businesses through AFS’s franchised network.
Since entering the business finance and commercial mortgages markets, Aldermore has seen significant demand from SMEs via its broker network. At the end of December 2016, the Bank announced that business finance lending had reached £1.7 billion, up 15% compared to the end of 2015, while SME commercial mortgages lending was up 12% to £930 million.
Nick Simpson, Managing Director at AFS, says, “AFS has enjoyed a positive working relationship with Aldermore for a number of years and both businesses know each other well so it makes absolute sense for us to strengthen our partnership through this agreement. We’re looking forward to working even more closely with the Aldermore team going forward and are excited to have the opportunity to play an even greater part in the Bank’s exciting journey.”
Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director, Business Finance at Aldermore, told Leasing World, “Clearly these are exciting times for Aldermore but what is really important and different to other transactions is our desire to ensure AFS remains true to its core values and continues to provide ongoing independent advice to its SME customers. As a champion of brokers and the value they bring to businesses, our support for UK SMEs through over 400 introducer relationship remains resolute. Nothing has changed in that regard – if anything the acquisition of a minority shareholding is a clear sign that we want to support the broker market and enable further market growth through a wider product offering for all.
“Our partnership with AFS is strategically important, representing Aldermore’s first such joint venture. We are really excited about the possibilities that this partnership, as well as future similar ventures, will give us to further strengthen and develop our position in the business lending market. “Aldermore remains totally committed to working with a diverse and wide network of brokers, dealers and vendors in order to play an active and growing role in supporting fast growing small and medium-sized businesses, the drivers of UK economic growth."