06/12/2005 - 21:00

Benchmark looks east

06/12/2005 - 21:00

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Fast-growing cash flow lender Benchmark Debtor Finance has been acquired by two Sydney-based financial institutions, Allco Principal Finance and Balmain NB.

Benchmark looks east

Fast-growing cash flow lender Benchmark Debtor Finance has been acquired by two Sydney-based financial institutions, Allco Principal Finance and Balmain NB.

Managing director Peter Langham, who established Benchmark in Perth in 1998, said the business had been trading normally during the change of ownership. However Mr Langham foreshadowed his intention to relocate to Sydney to be closer to the growth opportunities on the east coast.

Benchmark has previously been backed by a number of Perth investors, including Allied Finance founder Gary Pearce, Grange Consulting’s Ian Macliver, and company director Dennis Banks.

It received a big boost early last year when Foundation Capital agreed to invest $4 million.

Foundation has been winding down its ‘growth capital’ investments this year, though Mr Langham said it was not a forced seller.

Instead, he said Benchmark had been approached by new investors and received “a number of offers”.

The new owners have acquired a 90 per cent shareholding, leaving management with a 10 per cent stake and an option to move to 20 per cent.

Mr Langham said the business currently had 40 staff and handled about $600 million of working capital finance each year.

He said WA accounted for nearly 40 per cent of sales, but a majority of the growth was in other states.

Privately owned Balmain NB is one of Australia’s largest originators and managers of non-bank commercial finance, while Allco Finance is a specialist in structured finance transactions.

Mr Langham said the new owners would be able to back any acquisition opportunities that emerged, but their main interest was in seeing Benchmark continue its growth.

“They said we like what you’re doing, just keep on doing it,” he said.

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