RBS offloads consumer loans to financial services firm Paragon

British first mortgage and consumer finance firm Paragon Group Of Companies Plc (LON:PAG) said on Monday it had paid GBP25,000 (USD40,000/EUR31,000) to buy a portfolio of unsecured consumer loans from The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc (LON:RBS).

The transaction was conducted through Paragon’s unit Idem Capital Securities under a forward flow agreement and is seen to build on its earnings this financial year.

Paragon said it would use own cash reserves to finance the deal. The company will remain on the lookout for further buy opportunities under the forward flow accord going forward.

In October 2011, Paragon bought GBP43.2m worth of unsecured consumer loans from the UK lender and later announced several similar portfolio purchases.

Paragon, based in Solihull, engages in first mortgage and consumer finance businesses in the UK. The company offers buy-to-let and owner-occupied mortgage assets, asset investment and administration, vehicle fleet management, unsecured lending, property services, mortgage brokering, loan and vehicle finance and surveyors and property consulting.

Last month, the company bought a domestic consumer credit card receivables portfolio from MBNA Europe Bank Limited for up to GBP16.9m. The deal was preceded by a GBP55.7m acquisition of closed UK consumer credit card receivables from the bank in December.

France’s Vivendi mulls sale of its stake in Morocco-based Maroc Telecom

French media group Vivendi SA (EPA:VIV) is reportedly looking at the possibility of divesting its holding in Morocco-based telecom company Maroc Telecom (EPA:IAM), the Financial Times said on Monday, citing sources in the know.

The French company has started talks with bankers from Lazard Ltd (NYSE:LAZ) and Credit Agricole SA (EPA:ACA) with a view to appointing them as advisors for the proposed divestment. The sale of the 53% stake could result in EUR4bn (USD5.2bn) in proceeds for Vivendi, the sources said. The sale of the business is expected to spark the interest of regional operators such as Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat) and Qatar Telecom (Qtel).

The disposal follows a review of Vivendi’s structure that was prompted by a notable slump in its stock price earlier in 2012 and the departure of CEO Jean-Bernard Levy over strategy disputes with management board members.

Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s top telecom operator, is the second-largest contributor to Vivendi’s earnings. The division keeps expanding its operations overseas, while its domestic business recently encountered difficulties brought on by the market’s increasing maturity.

Vivendi has meanwhile hired Deutsche Bank (ETR:DBK) and Rothschild to help with the sale of another telecom unit, Brazilian landline operator GVT. The French company’s music division Universal Music Group Inc (UMG) bought EMI Group’s recorded music division in late September, meaning that the structure overhaul will not affect this business, despite the pending sale of its Parlophone label under the requirements of the European Commission.

Broadcaster ITV looks to the Nordic region with acquisition of Finland’s Tarinatalo

British broadcaster ITV Plc (LON:ITV) on Monday said it had taken over Finnish factual entertainment, reality and lifestyle programmes producer Tarinatalo Oy, in line with its transformation strategy aimed at boosting international content business.

Financial terms were not revealed.

ITV Studios International’s managing director Paul Buccieri described the acquired business as a very creative producer with strong relationships with Finnish broadcasters and a substantial portfolio of hit shows, as well as a large number of ideas under development.
ITV will work towards the future growth of Tarinatalo, which has so far expanded fast in terms of size, programme genre, licensing and online, he added.

With this move, which follows ITV’s recent buy of Norwegian indie Mediacircus, ITV Studios, with already a presence in Sweden, achieves a footprint in three Nordic countries.

Set up in 1997, Tarinatalo also co-produced the 2007 Eurovision song contest held in Helsinki.

Hans Engholm, the CEO of ITV Studios Nordic, of which Tarinatalo will be part, said in a comment that the Finnish producer has experience in creating and selling formats for the international market, in keeping with ITV’s current goal of building a strong creative business.

Tarinatalo’s chief executive Aram Aflatuni welcomed the transaction as well, pointing out the importance of forming a Nordic creative hub with producers in Sweden and Norway.

Apart from ITV Studios, the British group also operates through its Broadcasting & Online segment.

UK housebuilder Persimmon acquires local rival Hillreed Homes

British homebuilder Persimmon plc (LON:PSN) said on Monday it had taken over regional sector player Hillreed Homes for GBP35.7m (USD57.4m/EUR44.3m) in cash, further reinforcing its presence in the south east of England.

The deal, through which Persimmon’s lays hands on Hillreed Homes’s landbank extending to some 3,400 plots, including strong strategic holdings, is in line with the buyer’s land investment drive aimed at backing growth, Persimmon’s CEO, Mike Farley, noted.

Headquartered in Kent, Hillreed Homes focuses on family housing, which complements the buyer’s Persimmon, Charles Church and Westbury Partnerships brands, the CEO added.

Persimmon was founded in 1972 and is based in York. The principal trading units of the group, which focuses on housebuilding, are Persimmon Homes Limited and Charles Church Developments Limited. Persimmon’s core business is The Persimmon Homes, which builds three, four and five-bed detached properties, two and three-bed town houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows and apartments.

Under the Charles Church brand, the company builds modern and traditional-style premium homes. Persimmon’s The Westbury Partnerships business provides social housing in conjunction with the group’s timber frame making arm, Space4.

Persimmon’s underlying profit before tax surged 65% on an annual basis to GBP98.7m in the first half of 2012 and its operating margin climbed by 320 basis points to 12.2%.