Commercial platform is final link for new lender to enter market

Commercial platform is final link for new lender to enter market


A Manchester-based bank has acquired a new business platform, which fills the final link in the establishment of a new commercial lending arm.

Whiteaway Laidlaw Bank (WLB), has acquired the business platform ‘Commercial first Partnership’, which was developed by the team at specialist commercial mortgage lender, Commercial First Ltd.

WLB’s acquisition of the platform means that the bank now owns Commercial First Partnership’s origination systems, sales and new business teams and other infrastructure.

This is good news not only for Commercial First Partnership, but also for WLB and its owners, the Royal Bank of Scotland Equity Finance.

RBS Equity Finance’s investment fund, ‘the Special Opportunities Fund’, bought Whiteaway Laidlaw Bank (WLB) at the end of January. It then invested ‘significant additional capital’ into WLB to support the growth of its business.

And so it seems that with RBS Private Equity acting as a key investor and WLB providing a loan book of around £ 30M, Commercial First are the last link in the chain. They will offer WLB the distribution channel that they need to reach the intermediary market.

The new commercial lending will be directed at SMEs and distributed exclusively through intermediaries.

Stephen Johnson, New Business Director of Commercial Lending at WLB, and former Sales & Marketing Director at Commercial First, said: “We are passionate about the intermediary channel and its importance in providing vital capital to SMEs in the UK. I would like to think these teams are amongst the most highly regarded in the market and we can’t wait to get back and support the channel we have championed for the last ten years.”

And with such a large void in lending to SMEs, both brokers and lenders are welcoming the future funds that WLB will bring to the market, whilst acknowledging that they will only fill in a tiny part of this gap.

Mike Straight, Director of Mustard Commercial Finance, said: “As commercial brokers we are always delighted to see any new lenders come into the market. There is certainly room for more lenders, although it obviously remains to be seen exactly what they will be offering.”

Rob Lankey of Aldermore, Managing Director of Commercial Mortgages at Aldermore, added: "We welcome the news of another player in the market to help SMEs reach much needed commercial finance, which is currently hard to come by through traditional lenders."

By Katie-Jill Rowland

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