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Merrill extends UK reach with Freedom deal

Merrill Lynch has bought Freedom Lending in its latest push into the mortgage market.

Freedom will continue to operate as a specialist lender in the buy-to-let, let-to-buy and self-certification markets. It will sit alongside Mortgages PLC, which Merrill also owns, and will unveil a new trading name before the end of the year.

Merrill is also believed to have provided part of the funding structure for the Oakwood group’s new lender, Edeus.

It is the latest in a long line of US investment banks looking to penetrate the UK mortgage market. Lehman Brothers already owns Preferred, SPML and the London Mortgage Company and is helping Alliance & Leicester’s push into specialist markets.

Goldman Sachs is also understood to be contemplating a move into the UK mortgage market.

Freedom managing director Colin Snowdon says: “This is excellent news as the backing of Merrill Lynch will enable us to accelerate the next phase of our development. I have been ambitious for this business from the word go and we can now compete confidently with the major players in our sector.”

Merrill managing director of residential real estate Daniel Pace says: “Freedom represents a quality brand and will have an even greater number of tools to better serve the marketplace and its clients.”

Purely Mortgage chief executive Mark Chilton says: “It is not surprising as the US firms seem to be buying everyone in sight.”

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