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Heartland Bank takes stake in Fuelled

NZN 19/02/2017 Sophie Boot

Heartland Bank has bought 25 per cent of online lender Fuelled for an undisclosed sum, giving it more exposure to online small-to-medium business lending.

In a statement, Heartland said the shareholding came alongside a committed debt facility to help Fuelled accelerate its growth plans in Australasia.

Fuelled gives SMEs an immediate cash advance on outstanding invoices, and Xero has selected it as an alternative lender in its "financial web".

"This tight integration with Xero enables Fuelled's advance credit assessment engine to make real time credit and financing decisions," Heartland said.

"Expansion of Heartland's digital origination platforms is a key priority for the business and Heartland welcomes the opportunity to work with an innovative New Zealand company providing a unique working capital offering for SMEs."

Late last year, Heartland missed out on buying ANZ Bank New Zealand's UDC Finance unit, which was picked up by China's HNA Group for $660 million.

The Auckland-based bank raised $20 million in December and wants a further $10 million through a share purchase plan which it will use to bolster its capital ratio after a period of credit expansion.

The funds would also help pay for an expanded online offering, with Heartland investing in data analysis to "more precisely" target its customers and supporting digital origination, it has said.

The shares last traded at $1.56, up 36 per cent in the last 12 months.

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