Wall Street Giants Swoop On Sub-Prime Lender
Two giants of Wall Street are in advanced talks to acquire Kensington, one of the UK's biggest sub-prime mortgage lenders.
Sky News has learnt that divisions of Blackstone and TPG, the US-based private equity groups, are close to securing a takeover of Kensington, which is owned by the Anglo-South African financial services provider Investec.
The sale of Kensington has not yet been finalised and could yet fall apart, but insiders said a deal was likely to be announced this week.
If completed, it will involve the business being taken over by Blackstone's Tactical Opportunities unit and TPG's TSSP special situations and credit platform.
The two firms are understood to see significant opportunities to grow Kensington's business and are expected to make substantial amounts of capital available for it to do so.
They are said to have lined up a new management team to take the helm once the deal completes.
Investec's £283m takeover of Kensington in the summer of 2007 proved to be an ill-timed foray into the market for sub-prime mortgage lending, coming just as financial markets began to seize up.
Kensington was previously a publicly-listed company whose former chief executives include John Maltby, who is now leading an investment consortium which is buying a stake in 315 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.
Investec, which is the main sponsor of the England cricket team, signalled its intention to sell Kensington in February.
Blackstone and TPG are understood to have seen off competition from at least three other bidders for the business, one of which was said to be Lonestar, a specialist US property investor.
"With the ongoing recovery in mortgage lending and wholesale funding markets we believe that Kensington is now well placed to continue growing and that this growth potential may be better realised under different ownership," Stephen Koseff, chief executive of Investec, said at the start of the auction process.
Analysts say the bank should recoup the majority of its initial outlay, with Kensington's recent performance aided by the strength of the UK housing market.
The auction of Kensington, which is being handled by Fenchurch Advisory, comes amid increasing signs of an overheating housing market in London and the south-east.
Some of the UK's biggest banks have imposed fresh limits on mortgage lending in the capital in recent months.
Blackstone, TPG and Investec declined to comment.