The SOF Annex Fund, described Freedom as the UK’s largest personal loan broker and said the transaction was part of a strategic growth plan for an existing portfolio company called the Target Group. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
Target has its headquarters in Cardiff and a number of other offices including a mortgage servicing operation in Chester and a development team in Preston. It specialises in software and other services to the loans, savings and insurance markets, and has more than £10bn of loans and savings running on its platforms.
Freedom Finance was founded by Rupert Webb in 1983 and grew quickly during the early part of the last decade offering secured and unsecured loans. However, it was later hit by scores of claims from former clients who alleged they had been mis-sold payment protection insurance. The business was transferred to Moneio in 2009 – although both were majority-owned by US-based JZ International. Documents at Companies House show a JZ vehicle held 45% of the Freedom shares while Mr Webb owned 28%.
Freedom’s managing director Nicola Georgiou said:
“We have very ambitious growth plans for the business and SOF are the right shareholders to help us achieve those targets. The diverse portfolio of SOF companies offer us valuable partners with which to expand into other areas of financial services using our unique sourcing platform. We have already identified a number of exciting opportunities and are looking forward to this new growth phase.”
The SOF Annex Fund is advised by SOF Investments, a private equity fund manager focused on investing in businesses in the financial and business services sectors.
Lindsey McMurray, managing partner of SOF Investments, said:
“Freedom Finance will be a fantastic addition to the Target Group allowing us to deliver a compelling proposition with the highest standards of regulatory excellence to both existing and new customers.
“At SOF we seek to invest in high-quality businesses operating in specialist markets with entrepreneurial and driven management teams. Freedom Finance and the team led by Nicola Georgiou certainly have these qualities and we’re excited about working together to build a business that delivers market-leading products and services to create long-term sustainable success.”