Duo Bank closes acquisition of Fairstone Financial Holdings

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By CPE News

CPE News (1/5/2021) – Duo Bank of Canada, a company backed by Stephen Smith, Centerbridge Partners L.P. and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, has completed its previously announced acquisition of all outstanding shares of Fairstone Financial Holdings Inc. from J.C. Flowers & Co., Värde Partners, and Abu Dhabi Investment Council

Duo Bank made the announced in February 2020 and had previously expected to close the transaction in Q2 2020.

J.C. Flowers and Värde Partners, acting as equal partners, together with Abu Dhabi Investment Council, acquired CitiFinancial Canada from Citi in 2017 and rebranded the company as Fairstone. Fairstone has over C$3 billion in assets on a consolidated basis and a network of 239 branches with approximately 1,400 employees nationwide.

Fairstone will operate as a subsidiary of Duo Bank of Canada.

photo credit: Fairstone Financial Holdings

News Release

Fairstone Financial Holdings Inc. Acquired by Duo Bank of Canada

TORONTO and MONTREAL, Jan. 5, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Duo Bank of Canada (“Duo Bank”), a Toronto-based financial services provider supported by Stephen Smith, Centerbridge Partners L.P. and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (“Ontario Teachers'”), announced today the completion of the acquisition of all outstanding shares of Fairstone Financial Holdings Inc. (“Fairstone” or the “Company”). Headquartered in Montreal, Fairstone is Canada’s leading provider of responsible credit solutions for near-prime borrowers with over $3 billion in assets on a consolidated basis.

“We’re pleased to be partnering with the talented team at Fairstone in pursuit of our complementary and aligned strategic growth objectives, including our mutual, community-driven focus on providing Canadians with access to financial solutions that fit their needs,” said Trudy Fahie, Chief Executive Officer of Duo Bank.

“The closing of this transaction represents an exciting new phase of growth for Fairstone and additional opportunities for our customers, employees and stakeholders,” said Scott Wood, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fairstone. “We look forward to partnering with Duo Bank, Stephen, Centerbridge and the Ontario Teachers’ teams, as we execute our multi-year growth strategy with a strong customer and community focus driving our financial product offerings.”

The acquisition includes all of Fairstone’s operations and subsidiaries as well as all the Company’s approximately 1,400 employees. Fairstone will continue to operate under its current brand. Terms of the transaction will not be disclosed.

RBC Capital Markets and CIBC Capital Markets acted as financial advisors and Torys LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP were legal counsel to Duo Bank in connection with the transaction. McMillan acted as legal counsel to Stephen Smith, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP acted as legal counsel to Centerbridge Partners L.P. and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP acted as legal counsel to Ontario Teachers’.

About Fairstone Financial Holdings Inc.
Fairstone, through its operating subsidiary, Fairstone Financial Inc., is Canada’s leading provider of responsible lending solutions for near-prime borrowers with over $3 billion in assets on a consolidated basis. Fairstone, including through its predecessors, has close to a 100-year history of providing Canadians with access to responsible credit. The Company has two key business lines: lending directly to consumers through its branch network and online; and financing consumer retail and car purchases through retailers and dealerships. Headquartered in Montreal, Fairstone is an operating subsidiary of Duo Bank of Canada. More at www.fairstone.ca.

About Duo Bank of Canada
Duo Bank is a Schedule I Canadian Bank founded on a mission to provide value-driven financial products that are clear and simple, to help Canadians focus on what matters to them. Duo Bank specializes in turnkey and customizable financial services solutions designed to deepen customer loyalty and grow sales. The growing complement of products and services includes credit cards, rewards programs and related protection services and deposits. With a value-driven approach to financial services, robust sales channels and innovative and efficient operational solutions, Duo Bank partners with industry leading service providers to deliver financial solutions for its customers. Headquartered in Toronto, Duo Bank is privately held by an investor group led by funds managed by affiliates of Stephen Smith, Centerbridge Partners, L.P. and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. More at www.duobank.com.

About Stephen Smith
Stephen Smith, one of Canada’s leading financial services entrepreneurs, is the Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of First National Financial Corporation, Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lender with over $115 billion of mortgages under administration. He is the Chairman of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, which he owns in partnership with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and is the largest shareholder in Equitable Bank, Canada’s Challenger BankTM. In 2015, Queen’s University announced the naming of the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in honour of Mr. Smith and his historic $50 million donation to the school.

About Centerbridge Partners, L.P.
Centerbridge Partners, L.P. is a private investment management firm employing a flexible approach across investment disciplines—from private equity to credit and related strategies, and real estate—in an effort to find the most attractive opportunities for our investors and business partners. The Firm was founded in 2005 and as of November 30, 2020 has approximately $28 billion in capital under management with offices in New York and London. Centerbridge is dedicated to partnering with world-class management teams across targeted industry sectors and geographies to help companies achieve their operating and financial objectives. For more information, please visit www.centerbridge.com.

About Ontario Teachers’
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’) is the administrator of Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan, with $204.7 billion in net assets (all figures at June 30, 2020 unless noted). It holds a diverse global portfolio of assets, approximately 80% of which is managed in-house, and has earned an annual total-fund net return of 9.5% since the plan’s founding in 1990. Ontario Teachers’ is an independent organization headquartered in Toronto. Its Asia-Pacific regional offices are in Hong Kong and Singapore, and its Europe, Middle East & Africa region office is in London. The defined-benefit plan, which is fully funded as of January 1, 2020, invests and administers the pensions of the province of Ontario’s 329,000 active and retired teachers. For more information, visit otpp.com and follow us on Twitter @OtppInfo.

SOURCE Fairstone Financial Holdings Inc.

For further information: Duo Bank of Canada, Jim Kozack, Vice President, Product, Sales and Marketing, jim.kozack@duobank.com, +1 647 971 5584; Fairstone Financial Holdings Inc., Fiona Story, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, fiona.story@fairstone.ca, +1 438 924 7233