Financier turns 75 – after close call

FINANCIER Australian Guarantee Corp-oration, the company originally formed to provide finance for Ford car purchasers, has turned seventy-five.

The financier has been in the WA market for nearly sixty years.

AGC managing director John Malouf said it had been represented in WA since the 1920s and took a firm presence in the 1940s.

While the company, a subsidiary of Westpac since the 1980s, had been doing well through most of its life, the 1990s almost proved its undoing.

“We had a near death experience,” Mr Malouf said.

“Because we’d lost sight of what we were good at and diversified into other areas we got into trouble.”

The company went from one handling small development products and personal finance to chasing large company loans in the $1 billion category.

It also became involved in several major property joint ventures and its 1983 merger with General Credits had introduced a different business mix with greater emphasis on property lending.

Deregulation of the financial services industry also brought problems.

“Westpac stood by us in those days,” Mr Malouf said.

Certain diversification, such as the AGC Paradine project, a joint venture with media personality David Frost, did pay off.

The project was a show business promoter that brought acts such as Sammy Davis Jr, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Roberta Flack and Boz Scaggs to Australia.

While never setting the entertainment industry on fire, the venture did bring AGC useful media exposure.

Following the turbulent early 1990s, AGC returned to its traditional core activities of leasing, consumer, motor vehicle and equipment finance and factoring.

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