Blackstone, the New York-based global asset management firm, has entered the Australian mortgage market after acquiring a majority stake in a leading non-bank lender.
With over $521 billion under management, Blackstone will take an 80 per cent equity stake in La Trobe Financial Group, in partnership with the existing shareholder, for an undisclosed sum.
This partnership aims to accelerate La Trobe Financial’s home loan offering and servicing to small to medium enterprises (SME) and business borrowers. Blackstone’s capital support and global networks are expected to assist La Trobe Financial to continue to develop its position in these specialist credit market segments.
La Trobe Financial, which has been in existence since 1952, has been one of the most private of all the large non-bank players in the country. Under the agreement, La Trobe Financial will continue to focus on growing its offerings to its loan and wealth management customers.
“The opportunity to partner with Blackstone was the perfect fit for our staff, business and customers,” La Trobe Financial CEO and president Greg O’Neill said. “The specialist credit space is experiencing a defining period of change and growth around the world right now, and it is critical that we continue to build on our strong capital position, expand our networks and draw on global best practice.
“Blackstone is an outstanding counterparty for our business and we are delighted to partner with them. We look forward to working closely with them over the coming years to expand and substantially grow our retail and institutional investment programs and our specialist lending offerings.
“At a personal level, our executive team look forward to working with Blackstone to maximise the benefits and synergies for all La Trobe Financial customers.”
Blackstone’s managing director – tactical opportunities, Malcom Jackson, said that the group is pleased to partner with La Trobe Financial at such a pivotal moment in its growth and development.
“The calibre of the La Trobe management team, combined with their high-quality loan origination and underwriting, both in the residential and commercial markets, and a strategy that is focused on realising growth opportunities at this important time in the cycle, means we look forward to a strong and productive partnership.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Greg O’Neill will continue as president and chief executive officer, as will the existing management and executive team including Rowan Donohue (chief operating officer), Martin Barry (chief group treasurer), Chris Andrews (chief investment officer), Cory Bannister (chief lending officer), Rob Clough (chief financial officer) and Randal Williams (chief risk officer).
La Trobe Financial will retain the existing board and appoint two additional representatives from Blackstone.
“We are delighted to welcome Blackstone as a shareholder and their representatives to our board,” Mr O’Neill said.
“Blackstone has a reputation as a strong corporate partner in this market globally, and we expect that La Trobe Financial will benefit from Blackstone’s strategic and financial expertise.
“There is a unique opportunity to tap into Blackstone’s global platform and its operational support to expand our investment and lending programs globally. The scale of the opportunity is unprecedented, given that Blackstone is larger than its four largest peer competitors combined.”