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Latitude shake-up could signal another IPO attempt

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

Varde and Deutsche Bank declined to comment when asked by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age about another float attempt. KKR did not respond to inquiries.

Apart from the rampant enthusiasm in the market for BNPL companies, market conditions have also become favourable for Latitude to ponder another effort at listing on the market.

The IPO market, which froze in the June half of last year when the pandemic took hold, boomed late in the year with 115 companies making their stock market debut, compared to just 92 the prior year. That boom has continued into 2021 due to low interest rates and pent-up demand from investors.

Last year Mr Fahour confirmed that the company was still interested in listing on the ASX after reporting that its unaudited profits were slightly ahead of its 2019 prospectus forecasts for the year to June.

Mr Fahour said Latitude had delivered on the promises it made, and it would ultimately list but he did not say when. The company said at the time that it had doubled volumes for LatitudePay since its launch in 2019 and spoke of other growth plans being implemented.

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This included expansion into China and other Asian countries to boost its growth by targeting the region’s fast-growing and online-savvy middle class as well as expanding its domestic BNPL offering into larger purchases.

“We’re focused on this interest-free instalment space, and we’ve identified a couple of geographic expansion opportunities, and we’ve nominated a couple of internal executives who have built this kind of platform in Asia,” Mr Fahour said in an interview.

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