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Portman buys specialist Sun Bank in £95m deal

Portman Building Society has added almost £1bn to its mortgage book by buying specialist lender Sun Bank from Sun Life of Canada in a £95m deal.

Sun Bank, with 75,000 customers and total assets of around £1.2bn, specialises in buy-to-let loans and is a leading player in the complex prime market, which caters for borrowers with mortgage requirements which are outside the mainstream.

Portman, the UK&#39s fourth-biggest building society, says the purchase of Sun Bank will allow it to enter new market sectors while bolstering its mortgage book, currently worth just over £5bn.

It intends that the bank will become its intermediary lending arm over the next few years but says there are no plans to rebrand it under the Portman name or cut any of its 190-strong workforce.

The deal, which was delayed by the terrorist attacks in the US, was finally agreed last Friday and should be completed by the end of November, subject to regulatory approval.

Portman chief executive Robert Sharpe says: “We are constantly seeking opportunities to grow our business, either organic-ally or through an acquisition, for the benefit of our members.

“We intend to develop Sun Bank as a distinct organisation, retaining its own brand, premises and people.”

Sun Bank chief executive Mark Sismey-Durrant says: “This acquisition will allow us to strengthen our position in the mortgage market and it will allow us greater freedom to grow the business. The market is becoming more competitive and the support of a parent with significant growth plans is a real asset.”

Mortgageforce managing director Rob Clifford says: “Portman has managed to both broaden its mortgage book and enter the specialist lending market without impacting on its core mainstream brand.

“I think that we will see more mutuals make similar moves.”

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