Mortgage lender withdraws IPO due to market conditions

by Donald Horne17 Nov 2015
LoanDepot, a fast-growing mortgage lender founded after the U.S. housing bubble burst, aborted a plan to sell as much as $540 million of stock to the public, hours before it was scheduled to set a price.

“LoanDepot is withdrawing due to market conditions,” the company said in a statement after U.S. markets closed Thursday, without elaborating or specifying whether it may resume the initial public offering later. Its bankers had been preparing to price the transaction that night, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The venture, backed by private-equity investor Parthenon Capital Partners, filed on Oct. 8 to sell shares, then changed its chief financial officer less than three weeks later, an unusual move in the midst of a stock offering. A person familiar with the book-building said midday Thursday the sale price might fall below the company’s target range of $16 to $18 a share.

Anthony Hsieh, former president of LendingTree, built LoanDepot into one of the biggest nonbank U.S. mortgage lenders over the past six years. Earlier this year, it expanded into so-called marketplace lending, matching investors with borrowers seeking personal loans online. Total funding volume across its entire LoanDepot platform reached $14.3 billion in this year’s first half, up from $5.4 billion a year earlier, the company said in August.

Jon Frojen, the CFO when the company started the IPO process, relinquished the post last month, according to a Nov. 3 regulatory filing. He went to work in the accounting and finance department, and was succeeded as CFO by Bryan Sullivan, a former portfolio manager at Pacific Investment Management Co. who once worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“The change in the company’s chief financial officer was a mutual and strategic decision between myself and management prior to our initial public offering,” Frojen said in an e-mailed statement provided by a company spokeswoman on Friday. “I am working closely with the company’s current CFO and finance department on a seamless transition. I have the utmost respect and admiration for every member of the company’s leadership and look forward to their continued success.”

IPOs have had a rocky stretch after more than six years of a bull market in stocks. Last month, payments processor First Data Corp. priced its offering below a targeted range, while Albertsons Cos. delayed its own share sale after disappointing forecasts from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a rival in the grocery business.

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