London-listed Conister Bank has acquired a 40% stake in sub-prime asset-based lender The Business Lending Exchange (BLX).

Conister has in place an option to acquire the remaining issued share capital in three years’ time.

The move further strengthens the ties between the two businesses following the provision by Conister of a £4m lending facility for BLX in November 2017 – while the bank’s managing director Douglas Grant has become a non-executive director of the company.

“We are delighted to build on our excellent working relationship with Conister Bank,” said Chris Allan, managing director of Huntingdon-based BLX.

“It will help us service the desperate need there is in the UK for funding to the small business community, largely ignored by traditional lenders. They are the backbone of the British economy yet high street banks have been strangling them of finance needed to grow and create employment.”

BLX primarily lends to start-ups, sole traders and small businesses with advances of between £1,000 and £30,000. It promises to make a decision within an hour and provides money secured on assets such as vehicles or machinery.

Douglas Grant from Isle of Man-based Conister said: “The Business Lending Exchange has as its focus small-scale lending to smaller businesses – a market sector that has recently witnessed a reduction in lenders.  This, along with the company’s commitment to customer service will propel this business to a meaningful size in the next few years.  We are pleased to be the debt provider and a major shareholder in this business and believe it will be a great bolt-on to the bank through the exercising of the option.’