Apollo (APO) and Athene (ATH) Acquire Majority Stake in Aqua Finance at $1B Value
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Athene (NYSE: ATH) and Apollo (NYSE: APO) today announced that Athene has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Aqua Finance (“Aqua” or the “Company”), a fast-growing consumer lending platform, from funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Blackstone”) at a valuation of approximately $1 billion. Under the terms of the transaction, Apollo will manage the investment on behalf of Athene. Blackstone would also maintain a minority stake in the Company.
Aqua Finance is a Wisconsin-based specialist lending platform that originates and services consumer loans, primarily for home improvement and water treatment. The Company has strong and growing merchant relationships formed over 30 years and has nearly doubled its annual loan originations since Blackstone first invested in 2018, with originations expected to reach $2 billion in 2021.
“Aqua Finance is an exciting opportunity for Athene to invest in a leading consumer finance platform, to provide capital and expertise to continue to grow the business, and to execute on our strategy with Apollo to invest in high-quality origination platforms,” said Jim Belardi, Chief Executive Officer of Athene.
“We are excited to partner with this new investor group as we enter the next stage of expansion for Aqua. I am proud of the significant progress we have made in establishing Aqua as an industry leader together with Blackstone and look forward to building on that strong foundation in the years ahead," said Rich Morrin, Aqua’s Chief Executive Officer.
“For more than three decades, Aqua has partnered with merchants to provide flexible consumer lending solutions, and with Athene we look forward to investing in the business and supporting the Aqua team to build on this success,” said Apollo Co-President Jim Zelter. “For Apollo and Athene, Aqua is highly complementary to our portfolio of diversified origination platforms, extending our access to quality consumer loan flow.”
Menes Chee, a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, and C. C. Melvin Ike, a Principal at Blackstone, said, “We are pleased to have backed Aqua, Rich, and his management team as they built a strong financial technology platform serving customers across the country. We look forward to continuing to support the business and its next phase of growth.”
Aqua Finance has a long history of partnering with merchants across the home improvement and recreational ecosystem to provide dependable and flexible financing solutions to their customers. Through this transaction, the new investor group expects to invest in new technology and innovation to further enhance the merchant customer experience and drive expansion of the network with new and existing partners.
The addition of Aqua Finance will increase Apollo’s current $80 billion annual run-rate of asset origination across its platforms, which span commercial and consumer lending. Apollo’s portfolio of proprietary origination platforms help the firm to originate high-quality, recurring assets for its investors, including Athene.
The transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including certain regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the first half of 2022. Lazard and Goldman Sachs are serving as financial advisors and Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP as legal counsel to Blackstone and Aqua Finance. Sidley Austin LLP is serving as legal counsel to Apollo.
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