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April 6, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:39pm

Keep buys back Norton Folgate for tiny sum

Robert Keep certainly has his work cut out. After selling his brokerage, Norton Folgate (NF), to General Capital (GC) two years ago, for £2.9 million (3.1 million), he bought it back last month for £1,555.

By Jason T

When Keep sold the business in 2006, the company was placing receivables of over £30 million per annum. However, it only managed to place £20 million since it was taken over by GC.

The lessor, which wanted to grow its asset finance portfolio, bought NF for it to act as a sales channel and Keep was appointed head of asset finance at the group. GC’s well-publicised problems also hit NF.

“As its founder and ex-owner, it was embarrassing and frustrating for me to see it suffer,” said Keep. Because he was increasingly unhappy at GC, he decided to resign last December.

As it no longer “fit in” with GC’s objectives, the board proposed that Keep take NF with him, which he accepted. Thus, on March 16, an SPV set up by Keep paid £1,555 for the entire share capital of the business.

However, due to a difference in accounting principles between GC and NF, its new restated accounts show net shareholder funds of £156,063.

“Not a bad deal,” Keep said. “But the future is neither bright nor easy and we have enormous challenges in the immediate future.”

The company aims to add more funders to its panel, and is in open discussions with companies such as Hitachi Capital, One Business Finance and Close Leasing. Keep also plans to grow the team to 18, and increase receivables to £30 million by the end of 2010.

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