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SME lender appoints former CBA exec as CEO

A publicly listed small business lender has brought in a former Commonwealth Bank executive as its new CEO.

Axsesstoday, an Australian Securities Exchange-listed SME lender, appointed the former managing director of business lending at Commonwealth Bank, Joanna White, as its chief executive officer.

Ms White replaces Axsesstoday’s former CEO and co-founder, Peter Ferizis, who resigned in September last year, after which the lender went into voluntary suspension ahead of a strategic review.

The new CEO was also previously a general manager at National Australia Bank in a number of business banking operations, product management, and distributions roles.

Co-founder and interim chairman of Axsesstoday, Yaniv Meydan, welcomed Ms White’s appointment, saying: “We are delighted to welcome such an experienced and well-respected executive to the company. Joanna is an incredible addition to the Axsesstoday team and we are confident in her ability to lead the company.”

Interim CEO Dermott McVeigh will assist the six-year-old company in managing the change in leadership.

In the 2018 financial year, Axsesstoday, which offers finance solutions to the hospitality and transport industries, reported a 131 per cent increase in full-year revenue to $49.2 million and a 93 per cent rise in profit to $7 million. The SME lender said it expected revenue and profit to continue on its upward trend in the 2019 financial year.

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However, the lender ran into some challenges last year, reporting to the ASX in October that a change in its bad debt provisioning methodology, combined with an increase to its impairment recognition to begin at 180 days past due, had “inadvertently triggered a breach of its financial covenants” with its senior lenders.

“The creation of the [Securitisation Warehouse Facility] is a prudent funding arrangement used by many non-bank lenders to fund receivables because of the access to cheaper cost of funds over time. However, receivables transferred into the SWF must meet prescribed eligibility criteria, including that they must not be in arrears for more than 30 days,” it stated in a disclosure to the ASX.

Changes to Axsesstoday’s corporate structure, through the introduction of new entities within the group, were also approved without the consent of the banks. Further, $2 million in funding “in business loans through one of these new entities” was secured outside agreed terms.

The lender sought consent from noteholders and bondholders to waive the covenant breaches and make amendments to the lending agreement terms to “remove ambiguity in the interpretation of the covenants”.

Axsesstoday said earlier this month that its board and management team are focused on “raising equity to support the debt in [its] capital structure and provide capital for the growth of the portfolio during FY19 and beyond”.

[Related: Citi Australia on look out for new chief]

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