CEO Greg O'Neill to depart family business after 37 years
La Trobe Financial, owned by CEO Greg O’Neill and US investment management company Blackstone, will be sold to Canadian private equity giant Brookfield.
In an agreement signed on 19 March, the current shareholders of La Trobe Financial completed a transaction to sell the business to Brookfield for a headline valuation of approximately $1.5 billion, including a contingent payment tied to the business achieving certain performance milestones.
Under the agreement, La Trobe Financial president and CEO Greg O’Neill OAM (pictured), will sell his 20% stake to Brookfield. He will also leave the company founded by his father Ray O’Neill after more than 37 years in the business working as the key architect of La Trobe’s growth.
La Trobe Financial is a leading non-bank lender and asset manager based in Melbourne. Founded in 1952, it has more than $13 billion in assets under management. La Trobe manages fixed income credit funds on behalf of more than 50,000 retail investors, mainly in residential property-backed loans. It also provides loans for a range of commercial and residential requirements.
“We are pleased to expand our presence in Australia with the acquisition of La Trobe Financial, one of Australia’s leading mortgage originators and asset managers,” Brookfield Private Equity managing partner Len Chersky said.
“We intend to invest in La Trobe Financial to support its growth and look forward to building on the business’s foundation of continuous growth and profitability.”
Blackstone Head of Asia Pacific for tactical opportunities Menes Chee said it had “been an absolute pleasure partnering with Greg O’Neill and La Trobe Financial since 2017, helping the business strengthen its reputation as a leader in its chosen markets”.
“Since our investment, the company has more than tripled assets under management and further diversified funding,” Chee said. “This investment embodies Blackstone and our Tactical Opportunities business’s commitment to working with visionary entrepreneurs and building businesses using our global scale and expertise to realise their full potential. We’re confident that La Trobe Financial will continue to thrive under Brookfield’s ownership.”
O’Neill said: “We remain very proud of the continued discipline and development of the business following my partnership with Blackstone over the past years.”
“The consolidation of La Trobe Financial’s attractive value proposition to both borrowers and investors, through our service philosophy of ‘others before self, remains a great source of pride for all staff’,” O’Neill said. “We are pleased that this transaction with Brookfield delivers our first-class management team and a very sound business into strong hands for its future.”
In a public statement following Saturday’s announcement, La Trobe Financial said the sale will enable the non-bank lender to continue to grow, supported by a strong, well-capitalised and respected investment partner.
“Our entire La Trobe Financial executive team will remain in place following completion. There will be no change to our day-to-day operations, credit process, or investment strategy arising from this transaction.”
O’Neill will be replaced by current deputy chief executive and chief investment officer, Chris Andrews.
Communicating its intentions as new shareholder, Brookfield said there will be no material changes to the nature of La Trobe Financial’s current business operations. The senior leadership team, board and management committee structure will remain unchanged.
With three Blackstone directors and O’Neill retiring from the business, there will be four new appointed to the board of the appointed holding company.
Brookfield also confirmed no changes to La Trobe Financial’s branding and market profile, and no material changes to its loan and investment products suite.
Subject to regulatory approval, the sale is expected to close by the second quarter of 2022.