OakNorth Bank buys 50% stake in specialist lender ASK Partners
UK-based OakNorth Bank has purchased 50% of ASK Partners’ shares in a corporate transaction that has received regulatory approval from the UK regulators, Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Founded in 2016, ASK Partners is a specialist lender which claims to have enabled over £1 billion of real estate lending across the UK through its fintech platform on which institutional partners, family offices and high-net-worth individuals provide funding.
ASK will continue to operate as an independent entity with its team remaining at its office in London.
The two firms have been working together for the past five years, providing structured debt to SME housebuilders and property entrepreneurs across 45 joint transactions.
Both firms say the transaction will enable them to continue providing “holistic” funding solutions to customers using senior bank funding and other sources of risk capital.
Ben Barbanel, head of debt finance at OakNorth Bank, who will be joining ASK’s board, says: “Like us, ASK has a strong focus on customer experience and credit quality and has built a fast-growing and profitable business.
“The fintech platform enables fast subscription of loans and a strong network effect where many of its borrowers also end up becoming investors.”
Barnabel says that the UK needs to develop 300,000 new homes each year to deal with the housing gap but that “during an economic downturn, most lenders tend to retrench from the SME lending market”.
“This transaction therefore comes at a vital time for the British economy as it will enable us to deepen our support for SME housebuilders and property entrepreneurs across the UK and through the economic cycle.”
The transaction follows OakNorth’s first acquisition of Fluidly, a cashflow forecasting business, in December last year.