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Subprime lender Amigo confirms buyer interest

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Seeking a deal: Amigo was put up for sale

Seeking a deal: Amigo was put up for sale

Seeking a deal: Amigo was put up for sale

UK-based subprime lender Amigo has received expressions of interest from potential buyers after the business was put up for sale last week by founder James Benamor.

The lender, which also operates in Ireland, said there was no certainty an offer would be made for the company.

But Goodbody Stockbrokers said it believes there is "strong interest" from possible acquirers.

"We have already been of the strong view that there would be significant interest in this business - and we think Provident Financial will pursue discussions," it said.

A spokesperson for Provident declined to comment.

Provident Financial is a UK-based subprime lender and a member of the FTSE 250. It also offers services here.

Amigo requires that borrowers have a guarantor, who is then liable for the loan if the borrower cannot make repayments. Amigo notes that "the borrower and guarantor are technically and in substance joint borrowers".

Amigo and other sub-prime lenders in the UK have been squeezed by a regulatory crackdown on guarantor-based lending, saying that guarantors do not often understand the risk they accept.

Amigo loans customers between €500 and €5,000 over one to three years here, and charges a 49.9pc annual percentage rate.

That compares with the less than 10pc rate which is charged on similar loans by lenders such as AIB or Bank of Ireland.

Provident charges a 187.2pc annual percentage rate on loans, offering between €100 and €1,000 in Ireland.

Within weeks of launching in the Irish market last year, Amigo had impaired €13,400 of its then €318,500 gross loan book in Ireland.

Most recently, Amigo reported that it had 1,800 customers in Ireland at the end of last September, with a total loan book here of €4.8m.

"Factors we consider in monitoring the overall impairment rates include the total value of the loan, the homeowner status of the guarantor, whether the loans are new or repeat loans, and whether these are lending pilot loans," Amigo noted in recently filed accounts for its Irish arm.

In August, Amigo's shares were hit after it reported a rise in first-quarter impairments and costs, and warned of slower growth in its loan book.

Amigo said yesterday it did not intend to nominate a second director to the board as previously stated. That move suggests Mr Benamor is pleased with progress in the sales process, Goodbody said.

Additional reporting Reuters

Irish Independent