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Latitude to acquire non-bank lender

The ASX-listed company is to acquire a personal lending fintech for $200 million, it has been announced.

Latitude Group Holdings Limited (Latitude) has agreed to acquire Symple Loans for $200 million, in a bid to accelerate its consumer lending growth.

The deal, which will be paid in shares and cash, is still subject to regulatory approval.

It will see Symple, a Melbourne-based personal lending fintech founded in 2018 by former ANZ execs Bob Belan and Paul Byrne, become the lending platform for all Latitude personal and auto loans (currently covering approximately 160,000 customers and a $2.5 billion loan portfolio).

Upon completion Mr Belan will remain chief executive of Symple, reporting to Latitude managing director and CEO Ahmed Fahour.

Latitude said it would leverage Symple’s technologies, advanced analytics and proprietary risk-based pricing techniques to deliver “simple digital experiences to customers and brokers, fast approvals and same-day settlements”. 

Once complete, Latitude said it would look to launch new products and build partnerships with other lenders, and will look to expand its auto loans business into New Zealand and personal loans into Canada through Symple’s existing established operations (Symple is set to commence writing personal loans in Canada next month).

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It will also provide an improved portal to support broker partners and the systems necessary to enter the auto loan market in New Zealand.

Latitude commented that the purchase of Symple would accelerate growth in Latitude’s loan portfolio and reduce costs.

Mr Fahour said: “This is an exciting and important opportunity for Latitude that will accelerate our growth plans. Symple’s scalable platform will enable Latitude to offer a wider range of products and product features in Australia and New Zealand, enter new geographies and significantly reduce costs while delivering superior customer and partner experiences.

“Latitude will enhance its existing strengths, including its 2.8 million customers in Australia and New Zealand, rich data, risk capabilities and funding capacity, by adding Symple’s digital expertise, agility and proven technology.

The addition of Symple’s founders Bob Belan and Paul Byrne will further strengthen our management team.”

Symple CEO Mr Belan added: “When we founded Symple in 2018, our ambition was to play a role in modernising and improving the personal lending experience for Australian consumers. Through a focus on innovation, continuous improvement and the use of leading-edge global technologies, we’ve demonstrated the capabilities and robustness of our platform.

“Latitude is a great fit for us as we look to take our business to the next level and we are aligned in our vision.

The opportunities locally and globally are significant and we’re looking forward to supporting what is already a very profitable and successful business in Latitude.”

Latitude chairman Mike Tilley concluded: “The board has a strong, ongoing focus on improving customer experiences. The decision to fast-track access to the opportunities available now in personal lending, rather than take several years to build them internally, was taken carefully.

Consumer behaviours are changing rapidly and disrupting traditional providers.”

[Related: NAB supplies fintech with $57m loan facility]

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