Ex-Pepper CEO acquires SME lender

by Miklos Bolza25 Sep 2017
Patrick Tuttle, former co group CEO of Pepper Money, is one of a group of investors who have acquired asset-based finance firm Little Lease Company (LLC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wholesale Rental Finance (WRF).

Tuttle, along with former Pepper COO David Holmes and former Virgin Australia group treasurer Philip Sullivan, have paid an undisclosed amount commensurate with the credit quality of the combined LLC and WRF portfolio, the company’s lengthy 18-year history, and its experienced staff who will remain with the business.

The acquisition was completed in Sydney on Friday (22 September) and sees LLC change hands for the first time in nearly 20 years. WRF was established in the 1970s to provide asset finance to consumer rental businesses.

“We are genuinely excited by this unique opportunity to acquire what has been a highly successful specialty finance company in small-ticket asset finance to Australian SME businesses over the past 20 years,” Tuttle said. 

“Along with WRF which specialises in the provision of wholesale asset-backed finance to the consumer rental finance sector, both businesses are leaders in providing niche financing solutions to Australia's underserved small and medium enterprises (SMEs).”

The trio intends to position LLS as the ‘go to’ provider of small and micro-ticket asset-backed financing solutions to small businesses, Tuttle said.

“For too long, SMEs looking to acquire small-ticket, business critical equipment have been overlooked and ignored by traditional bank and finance company providers. We intend to break that trend by offering bespoke, risk-based pricing solutions for business-critical needs – delivering fast, customer-focused outcomes for Australian SMEs who are the engine room of our economy.”

Holmes added that LLS fills a niche in the SME lending market by providing flexible funding against a business’ assets and cash flow instead of through a commercial bank’s approach to lending which typically requires residential property as security.

“LLC is backed by a highly-experienced management team with intimate knowledge of both the operational and funding needs of the SME sector. 

“The credit quality of the loan book is very strong, providing us with a solid foundation from which to further industrialise the platform and grow market share through diversified distribution channels, particularly our national finance broker network and through the establishment of a small number of bespoke vendor financing arrangements.”

Sullivan said that LLC existing corporate bank funded facility would be refinanced through a more traditional asset-backed warehouse facility provided by a major Australian commercial bank.

“In our view, this will provide both the LLC and WRF businesses with long-term stable funding from which to drive organic volume growth and future product innovation to support our core small business customers.”

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