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May 24, 2018

Paragon asset finance business doubles its lending to SMEs

Paragon Banking Group’s asset finance lending into small and medium-sized UK businesses in H1 2018 was up 54% to £164m compared with the same period last year.

By Brian Cantwell

Paragon Banking Group’s asset finance lending into small and medium-sized UK businesses in H1 2018 was up 54% to £164m compared with the same period last year.

Existing operations, combined with Paragon’s new aviation finance proposition, grew lending by 14% to £121m.

In December 2017 Paragon acquired Iceberg, a specialist broker and lender in the professional services sector, and it added £42m of new lending. Iceberg focuses principally on short-term unsecured business funding for solicitors and, through solicitors, in lending to parties in inheritance and matrimonial proceedings.

Total loan balances for Paragon’s asset finance operations increased to £428m at 31 March 2018 from £314m twelve months ago as the business continued with its strategic repositioning to address the larger, mid-range segment of the market.

In Q1 2018, the bank said that its growth in lending had mainly been driven by expansions in the mortgage and development finance businesses.

Overall, underlying half-year profits for Paragon Banking Group grew by almost 4.7% to £73.4m, up from £70 million in the first half last year.

Gary Leitch, asset finance director at Paragon said: “We continue to see exciting opportunities to expand Paragon’s expertise and reach in the asset finance market. The launch of our new aviation proposition and the acquisition of legal specialist, Iceberg, expands our sector expertise and underpins our progress in the first half.”

Paragon has been active in the structured finance arena

In May Paragon provided a £17.5m (€20m) wholesale facility to a business loan provider, its first deal for the bank’s structured lending team.

The senior debt facility to cashflow finance provider Liberis was arranged in collaboration with British Business Investments, part of the British Business Bank (BBB). It formed part of a wider £57.5m funding package to small businesses promoted by the BBB.

Paragon set up the structured lending team last year to gain additional exposure to both primary and secondary markets. The team is led by Adam Daniels, formerly of Lloyds Bank and GE Capital, who has recently been joined by Lewis Fitzsimons and Jamie Pickering, also of Lloyds.

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