Mortgage Times ponders lender arm

The Mortgage Times Group has confirmed it is exploring the possibility of launching a lender arm, while rubbishing industry rumours that it is to sell its network to US investment bank Merrill Lynch.

Several industry sources have claimed Mortgage Times has gone further and made an application to the Financial Services Authority to launch a lender, with some suggesting the company has been using a head hunter to try to lure several high profile industry figures to join it.

The claims come amid rumours that the FSA is currently processing 22 applications to create mortgage lenders several of which are believed to be from packagers.

Chris May, director of The Mortgage Times Group, responded to the industry gossip by telling Mortgage Distributor: “There are a number of rumours circulating at the moment regarding The Mortgage Times Group. I have said for a long time that with procuration fees likely to go down, we need to seek extra profit margins from other avenues. We are investigating the possibility of setting up our own lending arm, but like a lot of firms, these are currently exploratory, and rumours that we have launch dates and so on are unfounded.

May also denies any plan to sell the network arm of the Group. He says: “We will be looking at new innovations over the coming months that will enhance our network offering, which we will be sure to publicise over the coming months.

“The Mortgage Times Group is committed to becoming the UK’s biggest distributor, and we aim to accomplish this through both our directly authorised and appointed representative propositions. With total conviction, I can state that our number one priority, above all other initiatives, is to build our AR proposition to 1,500 AR firms over the next 24 months, and this remains our core business focus.

“In an ever competitive marketplace, it’s vital that we are in control of our own destiny, and this can only be achieved by controlling distribution. By doing so, we are protecting our intermediaries businesses by adding value to their core propositions, and also we will be more aligned with our provider partners that are adding value to our proposition and protecting their interests as well.”