Finance Ireland plans stock market flotation in May

Non-bank lender expected to seek more than €100m in IPO depending on market

Billy Kane, chief executive of Finance Ireland: working with Goodbody Stockbrokers on plans for an IPO.  Photograph: Bryan James Brophy

Billy Kane, chief executive of Finance Ireland: working with Goodbody Stockbrokers on plans for an IPO. Photograph: Bryan James Brophy

 

Non-bank lender Finance Ireland is targeting May for its planned initial public offering (IPO), according to sources.

The lender, in which the State’s Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and US investment giant Pimco each own 31 per cent stakes, is expected to seek to raise more than €100 million in the deal, subject to market conditions.

The near-term market appetite for Irish financial stocks will be heavily influenced by the shape and time it takes to establish the next government, after the general election on February 8th threw up a virtual three-way tie between Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Fine Gael.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

The Irish Times reported last month that Finance Ireland, led by chief executive Billy Kane, was working with Goodbody Stockbrokers on plans for an IPO this year.

Finance Ireland’s loan book – including leasing finance to SMEs, motor finance, agrilending and a real-estate portfolio – breached the €1 billion mark in 2018 as new lending grew by 13 per cent to almost €500 million.

Home loans product

The company also launched its own home loans product last March, having entered this segment of the market at the end of 2018 with its purchase of a €200 million home loans book from KKR-owned Pepper Money, which was exiting this line of business.

Finance Ireland traces its roots back to 2002 when Mr Kane, a former chief executive of Irish Permanent, set up a company called Shared Home Investment Plan (Ship), which offered an equity-release product in Ireland for seniors. The company secured a stock-market quotation in 2006 through a reverse takeover of publicly quoted Ardent and was subsequently renamed Finance Ireland.

The business made a brief entry into Irish subprime mortgage lending before the property crash. Finance Ireland delisted from the Dublin and London markets in 2008 and stopped writing new business in 2009.

It started to lend again in 2011, focusing on motor finance, with backing from UK merchant bank Close Brothers, before expanding into other areas as the economy began to recover.