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La Trobe CEO to exit after $1.5bn sale

The chief of La Trobe Financial will depart, after selling his stake in the non-bank lender to Canadian group Brookfield Asset Management.

US asset manager Blackstone and La Trobe Financial president and chief executive Greg O'Neill have sold their respective 80 per cent and 20 per cent stakes in the lender to Brookfield, for around $1.5 billion.

The final value will include a payment contingent on the business achieving certain milestones.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, but it is expected to finalise during the June quarter.

A spokesperson for Brookfield confirmed Mr O'Neill will exit the lender after the deal closes and he will be replaced by La Trobe Financial deputy CEO and chief investment officer Chris Andrews.

Mr Andrews has been with the group for around 15 years, having held senior positions including vice-president and head of funds management, and senior legal counsel – group executive.

However, Brookfield has stated La Trobe will see no other changes.

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“There will be no change to the day-to-day operations, credit process, or investment strategy arising from this transaction and the company’s existing senior executive team will remain in place following completion,” a Brookfield spokesperson told Mortgage Business.

Founded in 1952, La Trobe now has more than $15 billion in assets under management.

The group manages fixed income credit funds on behalf of 50,000 retail investors, primarily in residential property-backed loans.

It also finances loans to borrowers such as business owners, recent immigrants and others who require specialised underwriting expertise.

“We remain very proud of the continued discipline and development of the business following my partnership with Blackstone over the past years,” Mr O'Neill commented.

“We are pleased that this transaction with Brookfield delivers our first-class management team and a very sound business into strong hands for its future.”

Brookfield will expand its presence in Australia with the purchase, private equity managing partner Len Chersky said.

“We intend to invest in La Trobe Financial to support its growth and look forward to building on the business’s foundation of continuous growth and profitability,” Mr Chersky asserted.

Menes Chee, Blackstone head of Asia Pacific for tactical opportunities added it had been a “pleasure partnering with Greg O’Neill and La Trobe Financial since 2017”.

“Since our investment, the company has more than tripled assets under management and further diversified funding,” he said.

[Related: Westpac appoints chief transformation officer in new role]

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