2nd March 2016

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A private equity firm has completed its first deal in the North West with the acquisition of a Bolton-headquartered online loan platform in a transaction understood to be worth more than £15m.

Beech Tree Private Equity has invested in the Fluent Money Group, which is the UK’s largest online secured loans broker and employs approximately 100 members of staff. The firm said that the deal would further accelerate Fluent’s growth through investment into complementary product areas and selective acquisitions.

Andy Marsh and Adam Rudd from Beech Tree are joining the company’s board as part of the transaction. Mark Huggins, former managing director of financial services at Acromas Holdings, the parent company for Saga and the AA, has also invested alongside Beech Tree and joined the executive team of the business to help drive a number of its initiatives and lead the unsecured lending proposition.

Rudd, investment manager at Beech Tree and now a non-executive director at Fluent, told Insider the company has significant growth potential. He added: “It’s our first deal in the North West so it’s really important for us. The business is in a great place. It’s a really exciting transaction.”

Kevin Hindley, chief executive of the Fluent Money Group, said: “We are on an exciting trajectory to significantly grow our business and I am delighted to have Beech Tree Private Equity onboard.

“We met Beech Tree as part of their sector-driven approach as they had been looking for the right platform in the online lending space. We are excited to be working with Andy and Adam as they understood our business from the outset. By using their industry knowledge and connections we have already started to further strengthen our core business and bring additional product lines into our portfolio.

“The appointment of Mark Huggins is a testament to the Beech Tree approach. One of the most important things for us though is that Beech Tree delivered on what they said they would do when they said they would do.”

Beech Tree Private Equity was advised by DLA Piper UK (James Kerrigan, Chris Wilson and Gemma Hewett) and Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services (Ed Brentnall and Catriona Long). Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance (Mark Watts, Dave Graham and Peter Barkley) advised the newco Fluent Money Group Ltd and DWF (Alasdair Outhwaite, Vicky Ross and Matthew Judge) acted for the sellers and the management team.