Mortgage Choice CEO contemplates CBA selling stake in broker

Mortgage Choice boss Michael Russell expects the Commonwealth Bank to sell the 17.2% stake it acquired in the mortgage broker following its acquisition of Count Financial.

“I can only really speculate. If I was a betting man, I’d be suggesting that they may well offload the stake. I think they have enough ownership in the mortgage origination space,” Russell says.

The bank has said it might sell its stake in Mortgage Choice even if not compelled to do so by regulators because there would be little strategic benefit in holding onto it.

The Commonwealth Bank already owns a 33% share of Aussie Home Loans, a direct competitor to Mortgage Choice.

As new owner of Count Financial, it also owns its subsidiary mortgage aggregation business Finconnect.

A decision by the bank to sell its stake in Mortgage Choice would most likely be welcomed by Mortgage Choice franchisees and the wider mortgage broking community.

Commonwealth Bank is the country’s biggest home lender, and its mortgages are among the most recommended by Mortgage Choice brokers.

While Russell says he does not expect the bank would interfere if it became a major shareholder, he told the Australian Financial Review franchisees “like the perceived independence that is created by having no bank ownership on our register”.

“One of our tag lines is that we are independently owned and operated. That said, things change, and we are pretty adaptable sort of organisation.”

Mortgage Choice is due to have discussions with the Commonwealth Bank over the coming weeks.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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