News

Lowell Group, a UK leader in debt recovery services, today announces a strong set of consolidated annual results for the period ended 30 September 2014. The results demonstrate consistent and sustainable growth, high returns and visible earnings.

Highlights

To allow historical comparisons figures quoted for the prior financial year* are for the 12 months to end September 2013.

*During the period Lowell Group moved its financial year end 2013 by one month from August to September 2013 to align the company’s reporting quarters with the more usual calendar quarters.

  • Estimated remaining collections (ERC) on a 84 months basis up 34 per cent to £714 million at 30 September 2014
  • Estimated remaining collections (ERC) on a 120 months basis up 35 per cent to £801 million at 30 September 2014
  • Gross Cash-on-Cash multiple held steady at 2.3x (on a rolling 120 month basis) at 30 September 2014
  • Cash collections up 21 per cent at £197 million to 30 September 2014
  • Adjusted EBITDA (excluding exceptional items) for the year up 14 per cent to £126 million
  • Portfolio purchases up 32 per cent at £162 million
  • Sector diversification with a continued specialism in non-paying low balance accounts
  • FCA preparation continues to progress well with external endorsement for ‘exceptional’ customer service (building on our ‘outstanding’ award in 2013) and positive net promoter score
  • Attracted new equity investment from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and raised £115m of new debt finance at a market leading rate
  • Investing for the future across the three pillars of our business, our people, practices and systems;
    • People – a number of new high calibre recruits joined Team Lowell, building on an already strong and accomplished team, in addition to augmenting our resource across  the Analytics and Change functions
    • Practices – co-sourcing of Internal Audit function with PWC, together with the bolstering of resource within our Compliance function
    • Systems – successful outsource of our IT infrastructure to Rackspace and achieved accreditation of the ISO27001 Information security industry standard

Commenting on the results, Colin Storrar, CFO, said:

“Today’s results see Lowell deliver another year of record and sustainable results, with strong growth, strong returns and ongoing liquidity all evident.

“Given we moved to a September year end in 2013 to align our quarterly reporting with calendar quarters, comparison to prior periods is best done by considering the 12 months to September 2013. The sustainable growth of our business is clearly evident on this like-for-like comparison, with a 21 cent increase in cash collections, a 14 per cent increase in Adjusted EBITDA and a 34 per cent increase in ERC.

“Over the year we invested a record £162 million in portfolio acquisitions taking the face value of our purchases to over £13bn. In the process we have amassed an industry leading data asset of over 15.6 million accounts with 8 million individual customers.

“The vast majority of our collections continue to come from our own UK-based contact centre which we have spent 11 years refining. The breadth and expertise of our in house activities allow us to work more efficiently, price more effectively and pinpoint our resources more accurately. It also provides transparent oversight of all our functions and points of customer engagement. Across the Group, we send out over three million letters each month, and receive and make over 150,000 calls. We also set up in the region of 5,000 new arrangements a day. 

“Our focus on compliance continues to be central to our thinking and our actions. We have further embedded our FAIR (Focused, Accessible, Informed and Reasonable) culture into our organisational DNA – listening and understanding circumstances is central to all our customer conversations. Our approach of understanding their income and expenditure and setting up affordable payment plans is clearly working with the level of defaults reduced to the lowest levels we’ve ever seen. Our customer service efforts have been recognised and endorsed in the strongest way possible – through the award of an exceptional rating from the UK’s leading customer experience consultancy Investor in Customers (building on the outstanding rating we received in 2013).”

 

Editors’ notes

Non-IFRS financial measures

We have included certain non-IFRS financial measures in this annual report, including estimated remaining collections (“ERC”) and Adjusted EBITDA.

We present ERC because it represents our expected gross cash proceeds of the purchased debt portfolios recorded on our balance sheet (the “Purchased Assets”) over an 84-month period. ERC is calculated as of a point in time assuming no additional purchases are made. ERC is a metric that is also often used by other companies in our industry. We present ERC because it represents our best estimate of the undiscounted cash value of our Purchased Assets at any point in time, which is an important supplemental measure for our board of directors and management to assess our performance, and underscores the cash generation capacity of the assets backing our business. In addition, the instruments governing our indebtedness use ERC to measure our compliance with certain covenants and, in certain circumstances, our ability to incur indebtedness. ERC is a projection, calculated by our proprietary analytical models, which utilize historical portfolio collection performance data and assumptions about future collection rates, and we cannot guarantee that we will achieve such collections. ERC, as computed by us, may not be comparable to similar metrics used by other companies in our industry.

We present Adjusted EBITDA because we believe it may enhance an investor’s understanding of our profitability and cash flow generation that could be used to service or pay down debt, pay income taxes, purchase new debt portfolios and for other uses, and because it is frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interested parties in the evaluation of companies generally. In addition to ERC, our board of directors and management also use Adjusted EBITDA to assess our performance. Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure calculated in accordance with IFRS and our use of the term Adjusted EBITDA may vary from others in our industry.

ERC and Adjusted EBITDA and all the other non-IFRS measures presented have important limitations as analytical tools and you should not consider them in isolation or as substitutes for analysis of our results as reported under IFRS.

Lowell Group plans to publish its annual results for the 2014 financial year (1 Oct 2013 – 30 Sept 2014) on the investment section of the Lowell Group website on the morning of Tuesday 27 January 2015.

Access is by request via the following link:

http://www.lowellgroup.co.uk/index.php/investors

 

TELECONFERENCE – Lowell Group’s CEO, James Cornell, and CFO, Colin Storrar, plan to hold an audio conference presentation on the company’s performance at 11.00hrs GMT on Tuesday 27 January 2015.

To access this audio conference, participants will need to register in advance at:

http://emea.directeventreg.com/registration/44301297

 

They will then be allocated the conference call number, a participant user pin, conference pin and instructions on how to join the conference call.

Lowell Group, a leading provider of credit management services specialising in debt recovery, data analytics and customer insight, has been awarded a three star rating for ‘exceptional’ customer service – the highest rating awarded – from Investor in Customers (IIC).

IIC, a customer experience consultancy, surveys customers, staff and senior management to assess how well a business understands its customer needs and how well it delivers services that meet those needs. In total, IIC analysed responses from over 1,800 Lowell customers and 500 staff.

Two years ago, Lowell was awarded a two star rating for ‘outstanding’ customer service, becoming the first company in its sector to achieve an IIC award.

Sarah Sargent, Director of Operational Delivery at Lowell Group said:

“Our relationship with Investor in Customers has been driven by our strong commitment to ensuring we make our customers’ experience as positive as we possibly can. We were delighted to receive a two star rating last year and we found the positive feedback invaluable in helping us to set in place clear action plans to develop and further improve our customer proposition.

“Being awarded a three star rating this time is a great achievement, a real testament to our customer-centric approach and our commitment, drive and passion to make sure the customer gets the best possible service.  This award is well deserved recognition for our customer-facing team members as well as everyone at Lowell as we all play a part in shaping the customer journey.”

Commenting on Lowell Group’s ‘exceptional’ rating, Tony Barritt, IIC’s Customer Experience director, said:

“This is a superb result, which is just reward for Lowell’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the customer experience.

“Lowell’s customer culture was evident from our first meeting with them over a year ago. This is despite the fact that customer accounts are sold to Lowell by creditors as opposed to individuals choosing to be customers of Lowell.  What the results show us is that once people become customers of Lowell they show a preference that should they have future debts they are passed to Lowell to handle over and above their competitors – which is really the highest praise Lowell could hope to achieve.

“Along with some excellent customer feedback Lowell has again received some very tangible and actionable suggestions for improvement, and we look forward to continuing to analyse our findings and develop action planning alongside Lowell.”

Customer comments included:

“I was ashamed of my debt, but when talking to Lowell they put me at ease and I felt I was not being judged, not like past companies” – anon

“Lowell have always been the best creditor I have dealt with since I’ve been having financial difficulties. They have been the only one who make me feel at ease and not [like I have] failed” – anon

“Lowell take the stress out of it all by making correspondence clear and straightforward. I’m confident that they will be helpful in the future and will support [me] during my financial issues” – Alexander

“I would recommend Lowell as they have really helped me with my debt situation as I am not working and they accept and understand that. They are easy to talk to as being in debt can be embarrassing but they don’t judge. They are genuinely there to help and they put my mind at ease. Everybody I have spoken to at Lowell has been friendly and helpful and has outstanding customer service qualities. Other companies can be threatening and intimidating but Lowell are fantastic and seem to really care about their customers” – Michelle

“The company are extremely friendly, the staff take time to listen to your situation before asking about payment plans, they make sure you are able to afford the repayments before setting anything up” – Rebecca

LONDON, December 3, 2014 – Reference is made to the announcements of Lowell Finance Holdings Limited (“Lowell”) dated November 11, 2014 and November 25, 2014 in relation to the consent solicitation (the “Solicitation”) by its subsidiary, Lowell Group Financing plc (the “Issuer”), with respect to the Issuer’s £275,000,000 aggregate principal amount of 10.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2019 (the “Notes”). Capitalized terms used in this announcement and not otherwise defined herein have the meanings ascribed to them in the consent solicitation statement dated November 11, 2014, as amended (the “Consent Solicitation Statement”).

The Solicitation was intended to amend certain aspects of the indenture governing the Notes (the “2012 Indenture”) to conform certain provisions thereof to the provisions of the 2014 Indenture, as set forth in the Consent Solicitation Statement (the “Proposed Amendments”). The Solicitation expired at 5:00 p.m., London time, on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 (the “Extended Expiration Time”).

Lowell announces that the Issuer did not receive the Required Consents in respect of the Notes prior to the Extended Expiration Time and does not intend to further extend the Solicitation. As a result, none of the Proposed Amendments will become effective and no Consent Payment will be made to Holders of the Notes.

For further information, contact:

The Solicitation Agent:

J.P. Morgan Securities plc

+44 207 1346 346 / +44 207 134 3414

E-mail: EMEA_LM@jpmorgan.com

Attention: HY Syndicate

 

The Tabulation Agent and the Information Agent:

Lucid Issuer Services Limited

Attention: Yves Theis, +44 20 7704 0880

Email: lowell@lucid-is.com

LONDON, November 25, 2014 – Lowell Finance Holdings Limited (“Lowell”) announces an extension of the Expiration Time and the Revocation Deadline in the consent solicitation statement dated November 11, 2014 (the “Consent Solicitation Statement”) issued by its subsidiary, Lowell Group Financing plc (the “Issuer”) with respect to the Issuer’s £275,000,000 aggregate principal amount of 10.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2019 (the “Notes”). The common codes for the Notes are 065291380 and 065291444. The international securities identification numbers for the Notes are XS0652913806 and XS0652914440.

The Consent Solicitation Statement solicits amendments (the “Proposed Amendments”) to certain provisions of the indenture governing the Notes. Capitalized terms used in this announcement and not otherwise defined herein have the meanings ascribed to them in the Consent Solicitation Statement.

The consent solicitation with respect to the Notes will now expire at 5:00 p.m. London time on December 2, 2014 (the “Extended Expiration Time”) and consents may be revoked by holders of the Notes prior to, but not on or after, the earlier of the time at which the supplemental indenture with respect to the Notes is executed (the “Effective Time”) and the Extended Expiration Time (the “Extended Revocation Deadline”).

 

Pursuant to the terms of the Consent Solicitation Statement, any consents from holders which have been validly received to date and that are not revoked prior to the Extended Revocation Deadline will remain valid.

 

The other terms of the Consent Solicitation Statement are deemed to have changed to the extent affected by the changes described herein. Except as set forth herein, all other terms described in the Consent Solicitation Statement remain unchanged. The Issuer may, in its sole discretion, terminate, further extend or amend the consent solicitation at any time as described in the Consent Solicitation Statement.

 

Copies of the Consent Solicitation Statement  may be obtained from the Tabulation and Information Agent, at +44 20 7704 0880 or lowell@lucid-is.com. Holders of the Notes are urged to review the Consent Solicitation Statement, as amended by this announcement, for the detailed terms of the consent solicitation and the procedures for consenting to the Proposed Amendments. Any persons with questions regarding the consent solicitation should contact the Solicitation Agent, J.P. Morgan Securities plc, at +44 207 1346 346 / +44 207 134 3414 or EMEA_LM@jpmorgan.com.

This announcement is for information purposes only and is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. This announcement must be read in conjunction with the Consent Solicitation Statement. No recommendation is being made as to whether holders of the Notes should consent to the Proposed Amendments.

Important Information

Lowell cautions you that statements included in this announcement that are not a description of historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors which, if they do not materialize or prove correct, could cause Lowell’s results to differ materially from historical results or those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. There can be no assurance that the transactions contemplated in this announcement will be completed. Lowell assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement included in this announcement to reflect events or circumstances arising after the date on which it was made.

Under no circumstances shall the Consent Solicitation Statement, as amended by this announcement, constitute an offer to sell or issue or the solicitation of an offer to buy or subscribe for the Notes in any jurisdiction. The consent solicitation shall not be considered an “offer of securities to the public” for purposes of the laws of any jurisdiction (including English law or Luxembourg law), or give rise to or require a prospectus in a European Economic Area member state which has implemented Directive 2003/71/EC.

The consent solicitation is not being made to, and no consents are being solicited from, holders or beneficial owners of the Notes in any jurisdiction in which it is unlawful to make such consent solicitation or grant such consents. However, the Issuer may, in its sole discretion and in compliance with any applicable laws, take such actions as it may deem necessary to solicit consents in any jurisdiction and may extend the consent solicitation to, and solicit consents from, persons in such jurisdiction.

Within the United Kingdom, the consent solicitation is directed only at persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments who fall within the definition of “investment professionals” in Article 19(5) or fall within Article 43 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005 (“relevant persons”). The investment or investment activity to which the consent solicitation relates is only available to and will only be engaged with the relevant persons, and persons who receive the consent solicitation who are not relevant persons should not rely or act upon it.

The making of the consent solicitation and the Consent Payment, as applicable, may be restricted by law in some jurisdictions. Persons into whose possession the Consent Solicitation Statement, as amended by this announcement, comes must inform themselves about and observe these restrictions.

For further information, contact:

The Solicitation Agent:

J.P. Morgan Securities plc

+44 207 1346 346 / +44 207 134 3414

E-mail: EMEA_LM@jpmorgan.com

Attention: HY Syndicate

 

The Tabulation Agent and the Information Agent:

Lucid Issuer Services Limited

Attention: Yves Theis, +44 20 7704 0880

Email: lowell@lucid-is.com