Westlake Financial Services announces a partnership with Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation. The partnership will result in Marubeni taking a 20 percent ownership stake in Westlake in a deal valued at $250 million dollars in newly issued equity. Marubeni will also gain two seats on the executive board. The deal closed July 1, 2011.
Paul Kerwin, Westlake's CFO, says the deal represents a long-term strategic partnership between the two companies, one that will further solidify Westlake's already strong balance sheet and provide strategic opportunities for future growth. "What we found in Marubeni is a business partner that shares our vision for long-term growth," says Kerwin. "Not only are they interested in investing capital, they want to leverage their existing relationships and help Westlake grow at a higher level than if we were to continue operating on our own."
Company officials talked about future business plans already underway: increasing independent and franchise dealership penetration, expanding their portfolio acquisitions and direct lending divisions, and exploring various strategic opportunities, to name a few.
Westlake President Ian Anderson adds that Marubeni appreciates Westlake's use of technology and he believes it was a significant factor during the decision-making process. "Our technology platform is really a platform for growth," Anderson explains. "Instead of opening regional branches, we use technology to bridge our 10,000-strong dealer base and the home office. Of course we still have sales representatives out in the field - the auto industry is very much a people-business - but our software and business structure lend themselves to very aggressive growth without the need for excess infrastructure. Marubeni saw that potential, and we're very happy to have them on board to help maximize that potential."
Don Hankey, CEO and Chairman of the Board, says he looks forward to working with Westlake's new business partner. "Marubeni is, quite simply, a perfect fit for Westlake. They are not looking to invest in our company with an exit strategy in mind. They are in it for the long haul. This partnership will help Westlake become the number one full-spectrum auto finance lender in the country."
Westlake was represented in the transaction by Richard L. Hong, Esq. and Rich J. Sweet, Esq. of the law firm of Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Incorporated, based in Century City, California.