Edeus quits lending and shifts focus

Edeus has stopped new lending and has rebranded itself as edeus market innovators.

The firm has also made its 50-strong origination team redundant, subject to a 30-day consultation period.

Among the departing staff are director of packaging Terry Pritchard, director of distribution Gary Webster and commercial director Martin Reynolds.

Last week Mortgage Strategy Online exclusively revealed that the lender was stopping new lending and shifting its focus away from mortgages.

Michael Bolton, chief executive of edeus, attributed the closure to market problems.

He says: “This is an unprecedented time for the industry and it is not commercially viable for edeus to originate new loans. But the growing market for due diligence services and asset quality assessment is an area where our technology and people can add value.”

Edeus is expected to unveil plans next week for a savings partnership scheme with a large building society and is likely to promote a lockdown savings account.

Steve Whatley, commercial director at FT Partners, says: “Changing market strategy at a time like this is a wise move. And shifting to a savings focus is smart because it follows the demands of the market.”

Stephen Knight, executive chairman of Checkmate Mortgages, adds: “This is a clever move to preserve edeus’ business until lending opportunities re-emerge.

“There’s plenty of demand for due diligence, portfolio assessment and asset management work and edeus is well placed to meet it.”

He says edeus was an innovative lender and could be again when the market returns.

Leading trade bodies have given the clearest sign yet that sub-prime lending will never return to the high levels seen before the credit crunch.

The comments followed a statement by Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, in which he claimed the heady days of “wild lending” will not return.

King made the statement as the BoE launched its £50bn Special Liquidity Scheme to swap mortgage-backed securities for government bonds last week.

Sue Anderson, head of member and external relations at the Council of Mortgage Lenders, says: “There’s been a severe contraction in the range of products on offer. The market is resilient but we are never going to see a return to the spread of deals that were available before.”

Patrik Carlsson, director of the British Bankers’ Association, says that although the BoE’s bailout will hopefully deliver much-needed liquidity to the banking sector, the key factor is risk.

He says: “It is important to make the differentiation between risk and liquidity.

“In today’s climate it is inappropriate to be involved in 100% LTV mortgages. Banks are now more conscious of the impact of new business on their books.”

He adds: “They are being encouraged by the government and the BoE to rebuild their capital positions, so it is unlikely they will want to extend high LTVs to borrowers who are more hungry for capital.”

The Building Societies Association agrees there may be a move away from sub-prime but warns against giving up on the sector completely.

Neil Johnson, PR and policy manager at the BSA, says: “Sub-prime has helped consumers who otherwise may not have been able to get back onto the property ladder.

“Lenders are increasingly looking at risk but they need to realise that just because consumers have had black marks on their credit records in the past, it does not mean they cannot afford to get back on the housing ladder now.”

Last week King said that the Special Liquidity Scheme was not meant to facilitate another boom in the mortgage market.