'Aussie John' Symond explains sale to CBA

Cara WatersDecember 18, 20120 min read

“Aussie John” Symond built his business as an alternative to the big banks, but Symond today reveals why he decided to sell out to Commonwealth Bank.

The executive chairman and founder of Aussie Home Loans agreed for the Commonwealth Bank to increase its existing shareholding in Aussie Home Loans to 80% by acquiring a further 47% with the sale requiring approval from regulators.

Under the deal Symond will continue as executive chairman of Aussie for four years and will retain a 20% shareholding, while continuing to be involved in the growth and direction of the business.

Symond says he is not selling out and it is business as usual for Aussie.

He would not reveal how much Commonwealth Bank paid for Aussie, only to say “it is a fair price, that I was happy with and they were happy with”.

“Commonwealth Bank came in as a 33% owner a bit over four years ago, it’s given me and Commonwealth Bank a chance to look at each other, see how we operate, and they have been very good shareholders and investors,” he says.

Symond says Commonwealth Bank has allowed Aussie “to continue to do its own thing” and respects the “integrity” of the Aussie business model, which provides hundreds of different loan choices and a panel of 18 lenders.

“Commonwealth Bank appreciates and accepts that consumers want choice and don’t just want to deal with one bank or provider,” he says.

Symond says Aussie has been “very successful and profitable” and Commonwealth Bank recognises the distribution channel Aussie has is something it doesn’t have, and Commonwealth Bank can provide more products and services for Aussie.

“Our feeling is it is a bigger, better Aussie with more choice and services for consumers, and that has to be good for competition,” he says.

Symond denies he has compromised Aussie’s independence by selling out to the Commonwealth Bank.

“I say to people we have tried very hard for 21 years to earn the trust of consumers and we have got a lot of runs on the board, I ask them to trust us, time will tell,” he says.

“At the end of the day if we don’t have compelling products and services at exceptional prices I don’t expect people to support us, I’m hoping to reach out to even more customers and grow the business.”

Symonds says “actions are more important than words” in convincing consumers Aussie is still on their side.

“We have demonstrated our fighting for consumers for 21 years, we have 21 years of unblemished consumer championing,” he says.

As for Symond’s future, he says he is committed to four years at Aussie as executive chairman but won’t be drawn beyond that.

“Who knows what will happen after four years from now,” he says.

This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

Cara Waters

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