Provident Financial well-funded

18-12-2007

Provident Financial well-funded
Provident Financial, a UK lender to low income households, has confirmed its liquidity has been unaffected by the global credit crisis.

In a pre-close update the company, which specialises in doorstep loans, said its funding position remained strong and was sufficient to finance the group's medium-term internal growth initiatives.

Meanwhile the lender also revealed its business had received a boost as a result of high street rivals tightening their borrowing criteria in the wake of the ongoing global credit squeeze.

Banks and building societies have become increasingly wary about lending cash to each other in the wake of the credit crunch, prompted by rising default levels in the US subprime mortgage market.

Due to tighter conditions on the wholesale credit markets, consumers are also now facing more stringent lending terms.

Provident Financial said the number of customers signed up with its home credit business was up 3.8 per cent year-on-year at the end of November, following growth during the second-half.

The company said new customer applications had increased as a result of the adoption of new marketing channels such as direct mail and the internet, as well as mainstream lenders tightening their borrowing criteria and retreating from the non-standard consumer credit market.

Nonetheless, Provident Financial has continued to reject around a third of customer home credit applications in order to maintain the quality of its loan book.

Customer numbers at Vanquis Bank, the group's credit card business, have also increased. By the end of November the number stood at over 310,000, up from 251,000 at the start of the year.

Provident Financial said the credit card unit had again benefited from tougher lending criteria adopted by mainstream rivals, but stressed Vanquis had turned down around 70 per cent of its own customer applications.

Commenting on the group's recent performance, Provident Financial chief executive, Peter Crook, said: "The group is very well funded and able to take full advantage of current market conditions at a time when an increasing number of consumers in the UK are having difficulty obtaining credit from high street lenders.

"The group is trading well and is expected to report strong profits growth for the year as a whole, in line with market expectations."

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