Private Equity Wire, 6th August 2014, Cavendish advises on Freedom Finance sale to SOF Annex Fund

Sell-side, mid-market M&A firm Cavendish Corporate Finance has advised on the sale of Freedom Finance Ltd, the UK’s largest personal loan broker, to Target Group, a portfolio company of SOF Annex Fund.

Freedom Finance, established in 2007, has undergone strong growth within the loan brokerage market driven by its unique search technology, which provides customers with accurate real time quotations across a panel of both unsecured and secured lenders.  The company has partnered with some of the most well-renowned lenders in the UK including Barclays Bank, Sainsbury’s Bank, Creation and Hitachi Personal Finance.

Target is a provider of software and outsourced services in the loans, savings and insurance markets. It has over GBP10 billion of loans and savings running on its platform across multiple product types and customers.

The acquisition will bring together Freedom Finance’s brokerage and technology with Target’s industry knowledge, software and servicing expertise.

The SOF Annex Fund is managed by SOF Investments Limited, a private equity fund manager focused on investing in businesses in the financial and business services sectors. To date, it has invested over GBP1.2 billion in a range of businesses across all stages of development.

Cavendish, which advised on the sale, has so far completed on the sale of nine deals in 2014. Its previous financial services deals include World First, Veritas Asset Management, Mackenzie Hall and Money Advice Direct.

Peter Gray, partner and head of the financial services group at Cavendish, says: “Freedom Finance is an exceptional business with unique “soft search” technology that enables customers to ascertain availability of personal loans on a real time basis without impairing their credit rating.  In Target Group, they have found an excellent acquirer which will be able to add considerable value to Freedom Finance by leveraging its extensive industry relationships.”

Nicola Georgiou, managing director of Freedom Finance Ltd, says: “We are delighted to announce that Freedom Finance has been acquired by SOF. 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.”

Lindsey McMurray, managing partner of SOF Investments Ltd, says: “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.”

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