Low-doc lender eyes Ireland with GE buy

by Adam Smith18 Jun 2012

An Australian non-bank has taken a foothold in the embattled Irish housing market.

Pepper Home Loans has announced that it will acquire the Irish residential mortgage business of GE Capital. GE Capital has a 600m book in Ireland, but ceased writing business in 2008. Pepper chief executive Patrick Tuttle said the deal would give the lender a toehold in the European market.

"We have been looking for opportunities to expand our successful business model from Australia and New Zealand into Europe, and see Ireland as an ideal base. In the medium-term, market conditions permitting, we will also consider originating new mortgage business in Ireland, thereby helping to rebuild a competitive marketplace and broaden the choice of home lending options for Irish consumers," Tuttle said.

Following the acquisition, Pepper said most of GE Capital's 192 employees in the Irish mortgage business will transfer to Pepper, where they will continue to service existing mortgages.

The acquisition is the latest in a string of grabs for Pepper as it moves toward prime lending. The lender last month acquired a $150m auto and equipment finance portfolio from Suncorp, with the eventual goal of originating vehicle and equipment finance. Pepper last year acquired a $5bn mortgage portfolio from GE Capital in Australia.

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