Menu Close

Amigo chief says new rescue plan could save struggling firm by 2022

Check credit my

Amigo’s chief executive has said he hopes a new rescue plan to keep the struggling sub-prime lender from going bust can be successfully completed by the end of the year.

Gary Jennison was speaking after Amigo reported that pre-tax losses grew substantially to £284m in the year to March, according to delayed annual results published late on Tuesday. That is more than seven times the £38m loss logged a year earlier.

Amigo, which grew in popularity following the demise of its sub-prime rival Wonga in 2018, has been deluged by mis-selling claims by customers accusing the business of handing out unaffordable loans.

It is scrambling to come up with a new rescue plan after the high court rejected Amigo’s initial compensation scheme in May.

That scheme would have handed customers as little as 5% to 10% of any successful claim, and capped the compensation pool at £35m and 15% of any profits over the next four years. The Financial Conduct Authority also criticised the first scheme for being unfair to some of the UK’s poorest borrowers.

Jennison said management had followed the judge’s advice by illustrating that the company was at risk of insolvency and involving customers while crafting a new rescue plan.

The next step will be to take the preferred scheme back to the court, ideally with FCA support, and gain creditor approval.

Jennison said he hopes to complete the process by year-end. “We’re doing it as fast as we can,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.

  Office politics: firms still grappling with home working puzzle

Credit beureau

“I will be the very first person to admit that the company has done some things wrong in the past, and further, the previous management was very slow to deal with the complaints.”

His executive team are now planning for “Amigo 2.0”, which Jennison claims will be focused on rehabilitating customers’ financial health by cutting interest rates if customers pay on time, and offering annual repayment holidays without penalties.

“We will be a totally different business when we’re allowed to lend again,” Jennison said.

Amigo’s ballooning annual loss was partly due to a 193% jump in the money it put aside to compensate customers who claimed it offered loans that borrowers could not afford – to £345m – as well as the £319m cost of processing their claims.

Its latest financial results suggest Amigo – which charges 49.9% interest and requires borrowers to provide a friend or family member to act as a guarantor – is on the brink of insolvency.

But while the lender admitted there was a “material uncertainty” around its ability to continue as a going concern, the company’s management is still confident of securing approval for a new rescue plan that would cap compensation payouts to nearly one million former and current customers, and allow it to restart lending that was put on pause last November.

“The continued pursuit of a scheme provides a realistic alternative to insolvency,” Amigo said.

Amigo shares fell by more than 5% in early trading on Wednesday and by lunchtime were down about 4% at 8p. The company’s shares have lost 97% of their value since their peak in December 2018.