Ex­pe­rian in line for share of mort­gage bro­ker group

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Lucy Bur­ton

CREDIT check­ing agency Ex­pe­rian is eye­ing up a slice of Lon­don & Coun­try Mort­gages as the firm tries to sell a chunk of it­self ahead of a po­ten­tial float which could be worth up to £300m, sources said.

Bri­tain’s big­gest fee-free mort­gage bro­ker, ap­pointed ad­vis­ers last year to run a twin-track sales process.

It later de­cided to aban­don a full sale and in­stead seek out a mi­nor­ity in­vestor to snap up around 25pc of the busi­ness be­fore it pur­sues a float.

Ex­pe­rian is now the front-run­ner for the man­date, peo­ple close to the talks said, with pri­vate eq­uity firm Cor­sair Cap­i­tal no longer in the run­ning.

Spokes­men for Ex­pe­rian, Cor­sair and Lon­don & Coun­try de­clined to com­ment.

A part sale or float will give chair­man Michael Edge, who owns al­most 70pc of the busi­ness, his sec­ond ma­jor pay­day af­ter he col­lected around £50m from the sale of Chase de Vere In­vest­ments to Bank of Ire­land in 2000.

It is not clear when Ex­pe­rian came into the bid­ding process, nor when a deal is ex­pected to close.

Cor­sair got close to fi­nal­is­ing a deal ear­lier this year, but has now left the process due to the “usual com­bi­na­tion of val­u­a­tion and ex­e­cu­tion,” a source said.

Lon­don and Coun­try’s most re­cent ac­counts, for the year to Dec 31, show that its rev­enues grew 25pc on the pre­vi­ous year to £44m while profit be­fore tax climbed 14pc to £9.5m.

The com­pany has been on a pro­mo­tional drive since Jan­uary, when it launched a TV ad­vert com­par­ing choos­ing a mort­gage to buy­ing a cake.

“L&C is one of the UK’S best-kept se­crets but that’s about to change,” the firm wrote on the ad­vert’s Youtube page.

The group, which has of­fices in Bath, New­cas­tle and Lon­don, is still look­ing for an ex­ec­u­tive chair­man with ex­pe­ri­ence in listed com­pa­nies to guide the busi­ness through a po­ten­tial IPO.

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