JC Flowers claims it is 'looking actively' at buying Irish lenders
BUYOUT firm JC Flowers said yesterday that it remains interested in buying Irish lenders as it outlined an innovative plan to invest in UK building society Kent Reliance.
"It's fair to say we wouldn't be surprised if in time other societies had an interest in a similar partnership," JC Flowers' Europe and Asia Pacific head David Morgan told reporters, adding that the group was looking "very actively" for more investments in the UK, Ireland and Spain.
JC Flowers is one of four investors looking at the EBS Building Society and was reported yesterday to have hired JP Morgan to prepare a bid.
The private equity group is now looking through the state-owned lender's books to decide whether it wants to buy it.
Kent Reliance will create a new bank in which Flowers will own a minority stake, the Chatham-based company said in a statement. The building society will own the majority of the new lender "although this position could change in the future", it said.
"In the current environment, the society is unable to generate the profits required to increase its core tier 1 capital through reserves, resulting in a reduction in the amount of business it can undertake," Kent Reliance said.
"This, in turn, affects the society's ability to make profits to improve its regulatory capital resources."
JC Flowers, run by former Goldman Sachs banker Christopher Flowers, was among potential buyers for Northern Rock months before it was nationalised in 2008.
Last month, the firm agreed to purchase €450m of convertible bonds from Banca Civica, helping the group of Spanish savings banks to raise capital after a legal change. (Additional reporting by Reuters and Bloomberg)