Ahmed Fahour’s Latitude finally ready to make its ASX debut

Ahmed Fahour’s Latitude Financial will be able to claim the mantle of the biggest float on the ASX by market capitalisation in more than a year when the non-banker lender lists on Monday with a valuation of $2.6 billion.

A buoyant stock market and scaled back expectations have provided the platform for Latitude to finally make its stock market debut. It will be the third attempt to list by Australia’s largest non-bank lender in as many years.

In the December half year there were 85 new listings on the ASX including 64 initial public offerings which raised more than $5 billion and entered the ASX with a combined market valuation of more than $12.7 billion.

The Ahmed Fahour-run Latitude Financial Group is expected to finally make its stock market debut on Monday.
The Ahmed Fahour-run Latitude Financial Group is expected to finally make its stock market debut on Monday. Credit:Elke Meitzel

The rush continued into 2021 with 40 new listings as of April 14, including 27 IPOs that raised more than $1.1 billion. It has been an unusually strong start for an IPO market that usually does not kick-off until after the February reporting season.

According to the EY Global IPO Report, Australia completed 23 IPOs in the first quarter, a rise of 156 per cent compared to the 2020 first quarter. “This continued surge in global and domestic momentum can be attributed to significant market liquidity, low interest rates and renewed optimism coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Duncan Hogg, EY’s mergers and acquisitions partner.

“In Australia and New Zealand, we foresee the IPO market continuing to improve in Q2 2021, with small-cap companies leading the charge,” he said.

“Companies that demonstrated resilient business models during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health and e-commerce sectors, and those exhibiting a strong growth story and a reason for listing, are likely to be successful in going public.”

Latitude had introduced its own buy now pay later offerings in 2019 to catch some of the growth premium that was driving e-commerce stocks like Afterpay to astounding levels.

But the buy now, pay later pitch was toned down for its latest IPO attempt.


“At the end of the day, I’m not looking at Afterpay, or Zip or Humm, I’m looking … at the large financial institutions, they are 90 per cent of the financial services market, and in consumer finance they are 90 per cent plus,” Mr Fahour said when Latitude’s prospectus was released last month.

The company’s current owners, US private equity firm KKR, Varde Partners and Deutsche Bank, will remain its main investors with a 68 per cent stake after the float with just $150 million raised from the IPO.

Varde Partners, Deutsche Bank and KKR created Latitude in 2015 after they bought GE Capital Finance – the company behind consumer finance services such as Harvey Norman’s interest-free offers and credit cards – for $8.2 billion including debt.

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